Update August 25, 2020: The United States Air Force (USAF) invites the public to review and comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for Preparatory Leadership Campus construction. View the complete notice of invitation. Deadline for submitting comments is September 15, 2020.
Update August 1, 2020: Monument Academy met on July 29 to approve their back-to-school plan. See http://monumentacademy.net for more information.
This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.
the PDF file. This is a 45 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.
By Marlene Brown
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) met for the first time in six months after meetings were suspended due to COVID-19 concerns, protecting their members by not having in-person meetings. It held its first virtual Zoom teleconferencing meeting July 11. The board decided too much time would be lost and the general membership would need to be updated on projects that were initiated in the area during the pandemic shutdown. Fifteen local homeowners associations (HOAs) joined the board in the virtual meeting, and it was business as usual.
Greg Lynd, president of NEPCO, opened the meeting and introduced the board. Larry Oliver, director of Membership and Community Outreach, reported that there are 47 active member HOAs with about 9,000 homes and lots within the boundaries of NEPCO service area in northern El Paso County, which includes the Tri-Lakes, Gleneagle and North Gate areas and Black Forest. The secretary and the treasurer gave their reports, which have been posted to the website www.nepco.org. Matthew Nelson, head of the Wildfire Preparedness Committee, was absent because it was a Woodmoor Chipping Day. Oliver discussed an online chart that provided wildfire preparedness links.
Land Use and Transportation Committee
Paul Pirog of the Land Use and Transportation Committee reported on several projects that have been reviewed in the last six months. Pirog stated that in 2019 there were 43 new developments in the area, with 22 new developments in review to date this year. Some of the new ones include Willow Springs Ranch, with 396 lots at Old Denver Highway and Baptist Road. The Village is 84 acres of townhomes, single-family homes and commercial buildings just south of Highway 105 on both sides of Jackson Creek Parkway. Monument Academy, at the intersection of Highway 83 and Walker Road, has been approved by the State Board of Education and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Two of several new proposed commercial projects are the Conexus Business Park and the Falcon Commerce Center. For details, see the Monument Planning Commission Article on page 18.
There is a need to continue oversight by a NEPCO committee and work with the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) to help increase mitigation of any corridor obstruction. Lynd said they will address these two projects with the BOCC and BOT.
I-25 and Powers Blvd. update
Wildcat Construction, which is building the extensive new I-25/Powers Boulevard interchange, has created an informative video simulation of how traffic will flow in all directions. Updates for construction phasing, bridge building, and planned detours can be found at https://i25powers.com.
Call for NEPCO board observers
The NEPCO Board of Directors extended an invitation to interested members of any HOAs who belong to NEPCO to attend board meetings in the capacity of board observers. Interested individuals may attend board meetings, participate in discussions, and learn how the board works. Board observers will not have voting rights but are allowed to engage with the board at the meetings. Board meetings are held separately from the general membership meetings on the second Friday of each month at 9 a.m. at the WIA conference room, but it will meet using Zoom until further notice. Anyone interested in becoming an observer may contact Lynd at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bob Swedenberg at email@example.com.
The NEPCO general membership meets every other month on the second Saturday at Monument Town Hall, 10 a.m. to noon. The next meeting will be on Sept. 12, by Zoom teleconference.
Marlene Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Harriet Halbig
Superintendent K.C. Somers and members of the district administration reviewed the fall 2020 Back-to-School Plan with the board at their July 20 work session. The entire plan may be seen in Boarddocs at www.Lewis-Palmer.org (go to board of education, meetings, meeting agendas).
As mentioned in last month’s article, the district distributed surveys to staff, parents, and students seeking their opinions about reopening schools. Responses were due on July 6.
Since that time, the governor has mandated the use of cloth face masks by all individuals over age 10 in public spaces. This and other state Health Department recommendations will be followed during the reopening.
The staff survey was sent to all staff, teachers, and administrative personnel. They were satisfied with the testing protocols but concerned about taking the virus home. Hand sanitizer was seen as absolutely necessary. Face shields will be used in language classes so that the teacher’s face can be seen.
Staff felt that volunteers should not be allowed to return, and adequate childcare was a concern.
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton said that the rate of response was 40%.
The family survey asked about the number of students in family and grade levels When asked to list their priorities, they responded that reduced class size and emphasis on cleaning were foremost. They also asked about such classes as band, physical education, and recess. Few families who qualify for free/reduced lunch or English Language Learners responded. The majority of respondents said that they have access to devices and the internet should distance learning be required.
Over a third of families responded.
The student survey was created with the help of students grades 7 to 12. Nine hundred fifty responses were received. It was distributed to grades 7 to 12.
Seventy percent of the students said that they planned to return to in-person learning. Student priorities were also class size and cleaning.
Students were also asked how many others they "hang out" with outside of school, and the response was 0 to 10. The majority said they were comfortable using the cafeteria.
Board Vice President Theresa Phillips commented that sports teams represented groups outside of class who spend significant time together.
Somers said that he anticipates that similar data would be received today but the survey would be different. He concluded that in-person learning was preferred but that the alternative of part-time online learning was also popular.
Somers said that the entire plan document was sent out to families along with a form asking them to indicate their preferences by July 31. This would aid with planning transportation and other scheduling.
The plan is the product of the work of many working groups and state and county officials.
Masks will be required on buses, entering and exiting buildings, in hallways, restrooms, and other common areas. They may be optional in certain classes where distancing can be maintained. The district will emphasize that this as a way of caring for each other.
Some considerations would be one-way hallways where possible and staggered passing times.
Hand sanitizer stations will be available and the younger students will have a regular schedule for hand washing.
Elementary students would be kept in cohorts, maintaining the same students and teacher throughout the day to aid in contact tracing should a positive test result occur. Secondary students could still have elective classes but the scheduling will depend on the results of response from families.
The Colorado High School Athletic Association will provide guidelines for sports.
Large gatherings such as Back to School Night will be held online.
Regarding lunch, meal accounts will be preferred to cash. Students will still be allowed to leave the campus for lunch.
Drinking fountains will only be provided for filling water bottles.
Benton said that there is now a Colorado Department of Education-approved online plan for elementary students should distance learning again become required. There had been such a program for grades 7 to 12 prior to the pandemic. Assessment will continue to be via PSAT and NWEA tests.
Executive Director of Exceptional Student Service Rick Frampton addressed the aspect of social and emotional learning during the pandemic.
He said the success of the distance learning plan in the spring was due to the teachers already being familiar with their students. This year, efforts will be made to make those connections early in the event that remote learning needs to be reinstated. Full-time online students will have a mentor from their own school.
Somers said that at the elementary level, teachers will develop a way to check in on a regular basis to see how students are doing.
Phillips asked what CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funds would cover in this situation. Somers said that two additional days of teacher training before school starts, cleaning supplies, signage, and Personal Protective Equipment would be covered. These funds can be used through Dec. 31.
Monument Academy must also follow state and county guidelines, but how they do it is up to them.
Board Director Chris Taylor said that a part of the district’s strategic plan is to ensure comprehensive crisis planning and that the district has done this thoroughly.
The board agreed to resume work on the strategic plan once the school year is underway.
NOTE:An updated back-to-school plan has been posted at www.lewispalmer.org/backtoschool2020. Click on "July 28 Back-to-School Update."
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
On July 22, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board met at Station 1 and via Zoom virtual conference to hear Fire Chief Chris Truty announce his intention to retire, and to develop a process and plan for the search for his successor.
Treasurer Jason Buckingham was excused.
Truty announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. He said it had not been an easy decision by any stretch, but it would be best to leave before he became involved in another long project. The intent of the early notice is to give the board enough time to find a suitable replacement.
Vice President Roger Lance thanked Truty for his leadership and for moving the district forward in the right direction, "we owe you a debt of gratitude."
The board began a detailed discussion of how it might conduct a search for Truty’s replacement, what criteria to use, and what combination of board members and staff might be involved in the decision-making.
Lance said that by the next board meeting, a search committee and hiring board would need to be established to allow the new fire chief to receive a thorough handover. We should be looking for a candidate that does not want to change the world but keep things running as smoothly as it currently does, he said.
COVID-19 - EMS supplies
Truty said there is evidence that the supply chain for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is collapsing and although TLMFPD does have a three-month supply of PPE that the district aims to maintain, the N95 masks are still difficult to find. El Paso County and the state and certainly the federal government are not going to help out and the district is on its own. As we experience an increase in burn rate, we are ramping up supplies in anticipation of a difficult second half of the year, he said. The district has applied for the reimbursement of COVID-19 expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant Program.
Battalion Chief of Training Jonathan Bradley said the district had received 240 KN95 masks in July that the district was price-gouged on, and a further 200 KN95 masks came from the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), even though we had specifically asked for N95 Masks only. We are pretty good on PPE and disinfectant, but the KN95 masks manufactured in China are not the same quality as the N95 masks which have increased in price six-fold since the pandemic began.
Truty read the June financial report, representing half of the year, stating the following:
• Property taxes received were $5.743 million and represent 63% of the budget with a projected revenue of $9.112 million. The second payment is expected by the end of July.
• Specific Ownership Taxes received were $464,508 and represent 53.1% of the budget with a projected revenue of $875,000.
• Ambulance revenues year to date are $414,211 and represent 51.8% of the budget with a projected revenue of $800,000.
• Impact fees received were $59,829 and represent 39.9% of an expected revenue of $150,000.
Truty said that overall, revenue remains ahead of the projected budget, and expenses were 3.2% lower than predicted through the end of June. The largest payments were $46,422 for mobile radios, two for each of four new command vehicles, and $6,027 for new tire replacement on the 2231 Tower Truck.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 6-0.
Truty said the multiple department updates would only be provided in a written format to the board in an effort to save time. He gave a brief update on the following:
• District accountant Becky Weese had communicated, at the end of the 2019 audit presentation in June, that Mitch Downs had not done a good job identifying the "outstanding job" and "excellent rating" that respectively the staff and district had received from Osborne, Parsons, & Rosacker LLP during the auditing process.
• The EMS captain candidate previously selected had turned down the position and, although the organization still needs a full-time EMS coordinator, for the time being an interim staff member will assist Battalion Chief of Training Jonathan Bradley during their off-shift days. There is an open window for internal staff to apply for the position, but it will require someone who understands how to build programs and organize besides having the EMS technical ability.
• The final payment on Station 1 has been made and the annexation will be complete once the deed is provided by the bank. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#tlmfpd.
• The remodel design has been selected and is being fine-tuned before a final price is received.
• A property appraisal for suites 102 and 104 came back $5,000 higher than expected, but it’s still good value. The currently occupied suite 103 has been listed with a realtor. The 2020 budget will reflect no lease for suite 103. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#tlmfpd.
Truty reminded the board that the collaborative working agreement with Local 4319 would expire at the end of 2020 and consideration should be given to a two-year agreement next time.
Public thank you
Truty and Bradley expressed deep gratitude to the Darleen Skow Johnson Family for making a property on Mt. Herman Road available for firefighting training. Bradley said hundreds of man hours in training took place over a six-month period and it was generous of the owners to allow such an interruption in their lives.
Board President John Hildebrandt and Lance thanked the department for providing fire mitigation services to their neighborhood homeowners associations in June and July.
The meeting adjourned at 7:39 p.m.
Caption: At the July 22 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Chief Christopher Truty announced his retirement, He has been TLMFPD chief since 2013. Truty is pictured at the Oct. 26, 2016 TLMFPD board meeting, thanking Heather Young for her thoughtful contribution. Young earned her Girl Scout Silver Award by making 22 embroidered stuffed animals for distribution by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District paramedics when children need to be transported by ambulance. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Caption: Christopher Truty when he was selected to be TLMFPD Chief in March 2013. Photo by Bernard Minetti.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information on upcoming agendas and Zoom joining instructions, contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011 or visit www.tlmfire.org/board.
In the TLMFPD article in the July issue of OCN, "Monument Hill Bridge" should have read "County Line Road Bridge." OCN regrets the error.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held an in-person work session at The Woodmoor Country Club on July 15 to pass the torch from outgoing board members to incoming members and to prepare for reorganization. The MA board also met in-person at Monument Town Hall on July 16 for a regular meeting to discuss plans for opening in the fall. Both meetings were held offsite because of work at the elementary campus and included the option for attendees to participate via Zoom.
Passing the torch
MA board members, including incoming members Ryan Graham and Misty McCuen, met with continuing board members and outgoing members Mark McWilliams and Mike Molsen to provide a handoff for continuity and to discuss the rules and organizational structure for the coming year. Finance Director Marc Brocklehurst attended in person. Chief Operating Officer Christianna Herrera and other attendees connected to the hybrid meeting via Zoom.
After introductions, outgoing board members discussed their perception of the school and its board. Molsen said that MA has an awesome administration staff and has hired great people. He said the board did hard work to get rid of the bad situation they inherited. He said his concern was that charter schools are targeted by people who don’t like charter schools and recommended a book called Charter Schools and Their Enemies by Thomas Sowell.
Molsen felt that people were coming after charter schools, and new board members should keep an eye over their shoulder. When asked why, he said that it was a power struggle and that "our way of life is being pursued by socialists" which he found very scary. His particular interest is in the Exceptional Student Services group, and he felt that MA does a great job with special needs kids.
McWilliams noted MA was one of the first charters opened after Colorado passed a law allowing them. He said that in his first two years, the board was mostly there to approve things and provide oversight, but it became much more work. He noted that he and Molsen did not get a clean handoff and they wanted to transfer the vision for the school and answer any questions. He benefited from meeting with the principals after the former executive director and chief academic officer left to figure out what gaps needed to be filled. The principals discussed the school philosophy and vision of what MA teaches, which is described as a "classical education."
Additional discussion covered speaking with one voice as a board, following sunshine laws about announcing meetings with more than two board members, making polices rather than micromanaging, and teacher representation. They noted that the board only has one employee: the COO. Herrera talked about working effectively with the board during meetings, asking that they send their questions in advance so she and the staff could be prepared. The board discussed organizational positions and the various committees and made arrangements for new members to pick up a board orientation guide.
At the July 16 regular meeting, the board elected the following organizational and committee positions:
• Melanie Strop, President
• Megghan St. Aubyn, Vice President and Communications Committee
• Susan Byrd, Secretary and Curriculum Committee
• Ryan Graham, Treasurer and Resource Development Committee
• Chris Dole, School Accountability and Advisory Committee
• Misty McCuen, Member At-Large
COO Herrera reported that the school has been evaluating the effect of COVID-19 during the spring and formulating a plan for next year with various educational options and taking into account the governor’s directives. She has been working with the D38 team, six other districts, and a national consulting firm on detail plans.
Herrera noted that there is a lot of concern about opening due to new cases of COVID-19 and said that MA holds student safety as paramount. MA recently allowed students to begin practicing sports while adhering to CDC guidelines, which gave insight into what fall might look like with social distancing, sanitation, temperature, and wellness checks. She said MA will be guided by expert medical advice and government guidelines. She noted that not all activities would be immediately available but would be scheduled in small groups with a phased approach.
She noted that there is new information daily, the situation is constantly changing, and there is not a lot of data on student groups since they haven’t been in school since March. MA must adhere to mandates but where a guideline is a recommendation, can decide for itself what school will look like.
Herrera said the finalized plan would be presented to the MA board and voted on by the end of July or beginning of August. MA will wait until the district first evaluates and votes on their plan and then will see where MA aligns or does not. She indicated that the current plans are subject to revision based on information received on an hourly basis at times.
She reviewed a broad outline for starting in the fall, noting that MA’s philosophy of education emphasizes interaction but felt like parents need to make decisions based on their family situation. MA has put out its own survey and participated in a broader D38 survey. Based on the communication Herrera is receiving, she is seeing changes from earlier responses where some parents are less comfortable with sending their kids back.
MA hopes to offer both classroom and virtual classroom access so students can be at home and see what is happening in the classroom. MA also hopes to offer fluidity so that students can step back into the classroom or self-quarantine as needed. She noted that some parents object to having kids on a device for instruction, so MA will allow parent cohort groups where parents can give instruction with teacher support. This is something that could work for homebound students in general.
Herrera noted that the board will need to approve a new policy for the employee handbook because of changing protocols around qualifications for teachers to stay at home. She noted that a teacher may need to stay home and still provide instruction with the help of a paraprofessional or substitute teacher in the classroom but expressed concern that substitute positions might be hard to fill. There is a technology team to support, train and troubleshoot as needed.
She thanked the facilities team for its work removing carpet and sealing floors as well as spending extra time doing sanitation. She said that MA has ordered 10,000 masks, face shields, and sanitation equipment. Herrera said that MA is also ordering washable masks with the MA logo and has instituted a light system to kill bacteria in the HVAC system. They have installed devices for temperature taking for large groups entering the school, noting that MA has received around $360,000 to help mitigate the effects COVID-19.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Strop reported that the construction company is working on a certificate in early August to allow furniture to be installed and teachers to be trained in the new campus.
• Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President Kim Stoltenburg reported that they are working to put spirit wear sales online. They will be meeting by Zoom and are working with the group creating the PTO for the new campus.
• The board unanimously approved a Request for Proposal for technology support services at the new campus to include pricing for an in-person presence vs. on-call.
• Public comments included a question about whether the board had applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and a comment about temperature monitoring. A parent expressed concern that temperatures would be monitored all day without parental consent and might violate health privacy laws, set a dangerous precedent, and upset younger kids by leading to bullying and public shaming.
Caption: On July 16, the Monument Academy School Board met in person at Monument Town Hall with additional attendees dialing in via Zoom. Audience chairs were placed at least six feet apart. From left are Chris Dole, Ryan Graham, Susan Bird, Melanie Strop, Megghan St. Aubyn, and Misty McCuen.
Caption: Newly-elected MA board President Melanie Strop reads the oath of office to Misty McCuen with Ryan Graham looking on. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. This is expected to be a hybrid meeting in-person at 1150 Village Ridge Point and online using Zoom.
Email email@example.com to get a Zoom invitation to the next board meeting and/or to submit comments or ask questions. See http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board for the latest information.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At 7 p.m. on July 15, the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board held an executive session to confer with its district attorney, Linda Glesne of Collins, Cockrel and Cole Law Firm, Denver and receive legal advice related to a land conveyance matter. When the board returned to a regular open meeting at 7:43 p.m., it heard from a Colorado Springs City Council member and residents regarding exclusion of properties in the southern portion of the district, which is also part of Colorado Springs.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid addressed the board and the community via microphone in the Station 1 bay while observing COVID-19 large gathering guidelines.
Treasurer Jack Hinton gave a brief financial update via cell phone and was excused for the remainder of the meeting.
Dual taxation addressed
Langmaid said "sometime prior to 2006," the City of Colorado Springs annexed certain parcels of property at the southern end of BFFRPD. This created a dual taxation zone, with residents paying both the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) and BFFRPD. The city could not provide fire protection and emergency medical services to those properties until 2013.
Langmaid welcomed Colorado Springs City Council member Andres Pico and said they had met in January 2018 along with council member David Geislinger to discuss the exclusion of the southern portion of BFFRPD and to get the ball rolling on behalf of the residents who have been paying property taxes to both entities.
In July 2018, the BFFRPD board approved a resolution to adjust the mill levy for the dual taxation area and to initiate the exclusion process of the "Annexation Area." Resolution 2018-4 stated the city and the district had commenced discussion to formalize agreement on the procedure for filing a consent petition for the exclusion of those properties from BFFRPD. Langmaid was board chairman then.
"Since that time, the momentum had tapered off until recently, when residents raised concerns over the lack of progress," said Langmaid. On July 15 just prior to the board meeting, the district received a draft Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) from Colorado Springs City Council’s legal counsel regarding petitioning the court to complete the exclusion of the annexation area.
See Langmaid’s letter to the community explaining the reason for the dual taxation and the annexation at www.bffire.org.
Pico said the Colorado Springs City Attorney’s Office has a slightly different take from BFFRPD’s version. He said work on the exclusion process has been progressing since 2018, but the administration process involves a lot of back and forth with paperwork, and the opening of Station 21 in August 2013 at Dublin Boulevard had been key to moving forward to show the board they have a "plan to serve." Note: CSFD’s Station 22 opened in 2016 on Copper Center Drive.
Pico said the city has been making progress and all the resolutions are prepared. However, BFFRPD has not yet provided a more detailed property map of each parcel to be excluded. Then the draft plan and resolution could move forward for 4th Judicial District Court approval. The exclusion could be achieved this year—"I think we are a lot closer than we think," said Pico.
Resident Colleen Murphy said the issue had nothing to do with the firefighters’ quality of work. She also said on behalf of the residents that they are thankful the exclusion process is now moving forward. "It appears that multiple communication issues have been the cause of the delay in resolving the double taxation issue, and homeowners should continue to monitor the progress of the exclusion process via the board meeting minutes of both parties and their respective websites, and to watch for her update on Nextdoor.com and then maybe we can slow down the mass of emails flying into inboxes," said Murphy.
Langmaid responded to the questions of several residents with the following:
• The homes to be excluded from the BFFRPD mill levy will still have a small General Obligation Bond until that expires in 2021.
Langmaid said BFFRPD is well positioned to continue advancing and leading in the region.
He assured the board that BFFRPD had initiated a revenue research project that concluded that once the exclusion of the dual service area in the southern portion occurs, the loss of revenue from the dual taxation area will be offset by property taxes in the Flying Horse North development, which is expected to reach build-out in the next several years. If the lost revenue is not replaced, "it would be detrimental to the mission."
He gave the following district update:
• BFFRPD received a total of 98 calls for service in June, which is lower than average. EMS calls were 40% of the total calls in June compared to the normal range of 50% to 60% of the total number of calls for service. Lower calls for service could still be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Firefighter/paramedic Garrett Miller has filled one of the district’s open positions.
• Two mobile radios have been purchased and re-programmed to the Simplex Communication Channel for the two new ambulances. The previous program experienced interference due to the region’s heavy distribution of ponderosa pine.
• Maintenance is occurring on the overhead bay doors in an effort to decrease turnout time.
• During a recent torrential downpour, a crack developed in the foundation at Station 2 and will be evaluated for repairs.
Langmaid gave the following updates:
• The North Group agencies (TLMFPD, Wescott, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and BFFRPD) have been collectively practicing various skills including roof ventilation, a previously unused tactic in the region, and helicopter operations.
• BFFRPD has been working on improving hose stretching and establishing significant water delivery for operations, and new EMS protocols are being studied.
• The new training facility now has doors and windows added to the Conex containers, and crushed concrete has been delivered for the perimeter. See photo at www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#bffrpd.
Fire marshal update
Langmaid said the following:
• County officials presented the draft language of the land development code during the Pikes Peak Fire Chief’s Council meeting and left more questions than answers.
• The district is moving forward with the signage program for addresses and the location of water cisterns.
• Flying Horse North has not made any inquiries since 2019 about the water requirements for the proposed 34,000-square-foot clubhouse, but the district is waiting to assist them whenever they are ready.
Hinton phoned in with the following update:
• The district had a total of $1.034 million in funds, including $525,410 in unrestricted funds, as of the end of June.
• A payment of $227,715 was paid to Arrow Manufacturing for the two new ambulances, and a state grant of about $179,000 for the two ambulances should be received once they go into service.
• Mobile Data Communications (MDCs) are expected to be purchased from the Capital Improvement Funds for a cost of $54,927 for hardware and electronics and $11,700 for installation and labor.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.
The discussion to schedule the semi-annual inspection of district assets by the board was postponed until the August board meeting, when Hinton could be present. The board approved the postponement, 4-0.
The meeting adjourned at 8:11 p.m.
In the July issue of OCN, "Mobile Data Communication devices" should read "Mobile radios." OCN regrets the error.
Meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at BFFRPD Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19. For updates and minutes, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During a virtual meeting held on July 21, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board approved a notice of intent to the county to hold an election this November that will ask voters to de-Gallagherize revenues. Also, Chief Vinny Burns identified numerous completed projects and board officers were voted in.
Joyce Hartung was noted absent.
Election to de-Gallagherize approved
The board voted unanimously to send a notice of intent to El Paso County to ask the voters to approve de-Gallagherizing their revenue. There will be two of the same questions, one for the district and another for the sub-district.
A ballot initiative to de-Gallagherize would mean the district is unaffected by the changes to the residential tax rate in order to maintain a consistent cash flow.
Background: The Gallagher amendment is a voter-approved measure requiring 45 percent of the state’s total property tax burden to be paid by residences in order to relieve the increases in residential property taxes. The other 55 percent is paid by nonresidential (commercial) property. Because of TABOR, the tax rate can never increase. Fluctuations in the residential tax directly affect the district’s budget.
The district’s legal counsel, Michelle Ferguson, said there will be a statewide resolution in November asking voters to repeal Gallagher altogether. In recent years, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District residents approved such a ballot measure. See https://ocn.me/v19n12.htm#tlmfpd.
The next step will be to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the county by August. The full ballot language is due in September.
Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich said the last election cost the district $30,000. Ferguson will supply assessed valuation statements for 2019 that the board can review to be sure they are making a financially sound decision in holding an election.
Burns and other chiefs had the following comments:
• During the June meeting, the board approved money for a Station 2 roof replacement, citing extensive wind and hail damage from 2019. Burns said this project had been completed. Once the insurance check arrives, the district will need to spend only about $1,000 for the project.
• Burns said the district has received their usual thank you notes from local residents that are so appreciated.
• Burns said the teams have been on four deployments so far this summer. This includes three in Colorado and one in Arizona.
• Battalion Chief Shannon Balvanz told the board the new tender was delivered and will come in under budget. The truck, made by Midwest Fire, is intended to haul water. The vehicle includes a 450-horsepower engine and can carry 3,500 gallons of water, pumping it at a rate of 500 gallons per minute.
• Lt. Justin Chavez said a grant was approved to purchase the Lifepak 15. The state grant will pay for 50% of the defibrillator cost, which is roughly $17,500. Because this is a non-budgeted request, Burns urged the board to take money from reserve funds to pay for the expense.
• Employee handbook—Popovich started the new version of the handbook; it is in review before they present it to the board as a rough draft. Ferguson assisted with a template. The board must approve it before it’s handed out to the employees.
Public relations and website finances approved
Battalion Chief Sean Pearson asked the board to approve $5,000 for the website update, a photo shoot, and miscellaneous items for future public relations functions. Pearson noted this is an unbudgeted request.
A statement of work for website updates didn’t include training or lead time to make future changes to the www.Wescott.org site. Pearson said he was leaning on a district staffer, Rachael Dunn, to get training and pass it along to the rest of the staff. Updates will cost $50 per hour.
The board unanimously approved the request but didn’t identify from where the money will come.
Board officer election
Through a block vote of candidates, Director Duane Garrett was named treasurer, while Secretary Larry Schwarz retained his position, as did Chairman Mark Gunderman.
Resident Mary Gunderman of Paradise Village thanked the district on behalf of her neighbors saying, "We’re very appreciative of all you do for us here."
Black Forest resident Johnny Schmidt asked about volunteer onboarding and training with respect to COVID-19 restrictions. Burns said when COVID starts to "release its grip" they will begin the volunteer program again.
The meeting adjourned at 5:31 p.m.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18 at 4 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
On July 13, the new Pinon Pines Metropolitan District (PPMD) 1 board met via teleconference to discuss options to reduce the mill levy; to hear the reason behind several trail closures; and to approve the 2019 audit.
Board members for PPMD 1 are: Board President Mike Hitchcock, Vice President Mike Slavick, Secretary Chris Paulene, AJ Slavick and Ashley Franklin.
PPMD 1 is a financing district that collects property taxes for the operating district, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD). FLMD manages public infrastructure, water, wastewater, storm drainage, parks and trails, landscaping, and streetlight services for the residents of PPMD 1 and 2 and businesses in PPMD 3.
Bond refinancing explored
Since the election of the new resident-only PPMD 1 board in May, the board directed FLMD Manager Ann Nichols to provide options for lowering the mill levy for the residents. Nichols introduced the board to Kyle Thomas, senior vice president of D.A. Davidson & Co., the original underwriter of the Debt Service Mill Levy Bond, who presented the board with an overview of the PPMD 1 bond structure and discussed possible finance options to lower the current mill levy.
Note: The debt service mill levy helps cover some of the repayment obligations incurred by both PPMD 1 and FLMD for past development activities with respect to the utility, parks, trails, stormwater and road infrastructure.
Board President Mike Hitchcock made the following comments:
• A saving of 10-12 mills on property taxes would be significant for the residents.
• Waiting would not be beneficial for homeowners who might be struggling financially.
• We need to get out of what we are doing now by the end of the year and take advantage of the historically low interest rates that exist today.
Thomas said decreasing the mill levy from 44.531 mills to 32 mills but still maintaining a reserve to pay down the balloon loan when it hits would be optimal, and he could come back with a bank proposal and everything could be finalized by mid-December in time to set the mill levy for 2021.
District Counsel Russell A. Dykstra said a decision by September is necessary to meet the December deadline. The board directed Thomas to return in August with a new financial proposal for the bond issue. "Let’s get this as close to a complete package as we can and make it happen," said Hitchcock.
Pinon Lake Trail closure, West Valley Trail questions
Hitchcock said Hammersmith Management, which manages the Homeowners Association, sent a "terse" mass email to residents in early July, which created a "firestorm" when the residents learned that the Pinon Lake Trail would remain closed due to steep terrain on both sides of the spillway.
Nichols said the following in response:
• Residents complained about the steep and slippery slopes, and after she had reviewed the hazardous terrain with an engineer, the closure was deemed necessary.
• Whatever we decide to do will have to be approved by a state dam inspector.
• The goal is to make the trail safe for everyone, and it should be a simple fix.
• An update to the PPMD 1 community will be provided once a solution has been found.
Hitchcock said homeowners in PPMD 1 were promised the trail system, but in four years he’d not been able to walk on the West Valley Trail, the trail west of the gate. He said that at the last combined meeting, Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes, was going to address the issue and provide a plan for opening the West Valley Trail, which would create a trail on the south side of Bristlecone Lake.
Nichols said it may be possible to open the West Valley Trail once construction in Filing 5 of Phase 2 has been completed, and she would add the issue to the agenda for the next FLMD board meeting, whenever that might be. Resident Fredrick Stein said the last three monthly FLMD board meetings had been cancelled and we should at least have the opportunity to be heard. "Communication is the key," he said, urging the FLMD board to hold an informational session with residents before decisions are made. See www.ocn.me/v20n6.htm#ppmd1.
Voluntary water restrictions
On July 21, Nichols announced via the district website that Stage 1 Water Shortage Provisions would go into effect on July 24, due to the hot and dry conditions resulting in a lack of flow from Beaver Creek to Bristlecone Lake. FLMD’s website states the restrictions are voluntary and asks users to be prudent in their outdoor use of water, limiting outdoor watering to no more than three times a week and not watering during the hottest part of the day.
Note: An enforced three-day watering schedule from May 1 through Sept. 30 has been in effect for neighboring residents of Triview Metropolitan District and Donala Water and Sanitation District since the early 2000s. For more information and a guideline to water-wise rules, see www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com.
For historical data on well water availability, see www.ocn.me/n4v4.htm#Geologist and FLMD’s dependence on surface water, see www.ocn.me/v19n8.htm#flmd. All water used by residents now comes directly from Bristlecone Lake.
Nichols said an annual audit for PPMD 1 is required due to the size of activity from the debt service fund and the bond issue. The development of PPMD 1 has reached build-out. The district auditors, Hoelting & Sons, have determined a "clean opinion" for the PPMD 1 2019 audit and "There were no major leaks," said Nichols.
The board accepted the 2019 audit as presented for filing with the state, 5-0.
After the meeting, OCN received the following updates from Nichols:
• The FLMD 2019 audit has been filed and will be ratified when the board meets again.
• The board members of PPMD 2 and 3 filed audit exemption requests for both of these districts at the end of March.
• It is unknown when the next FLMD, PPMD 2 and 3 board meetings will be held.
A director vacancy exists on the FLMD, PPMD 2 and 3 boards. See www.ocn.me/v20n6.htm#ppmd1.
Financial statement for April
Nichols presented the April financial statement and made the following updates:
• The General Fund has a balance of $141,000.
• A total of about $40,000 in property taxes have yet to be collected for June.
• The PPMD 1 payment to FLMD’s administrative and management costs will be collected in July.
• The Bond Fund had $275,000 at the end of April.
• A Debt Service Fund payment of $221,000 with a small $10,000 for the principle payment was made on June 1.
Nichols said, "Everything is tracking and close to be where it should be." The board accepted the financial statement as presented, 5-0.
Nichols gave the following update on recent financial transactions:
• In May, about $17,000 of pledged revenue was deposited to the trustee, UMB Bank.
• A final bill of $3,000 was paid to Hoelting & Sons for the 2019 audit.
• In June, about $186,000 was received in property taxes, and it would be transferred to UMB Bank once Hitchcock was available to co-sign the check.
Nichols said she did not think that a board vote was required to accept the financial transactions and it was just for information.
The meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
Caption: A scenic view of Bristlecone Lake on July 24 shows the summertime low water level. Since June 2019, the reservoir has been the sole water source for the residents of the Forest Lakes development for both drinking water and irrigation. The lake receives surface water flow from Beaver Creek, and flows are reduced when there are sustained high temperatures and a lack of significant precipitation. The reservoir is about 65 surface acres and has varying depths with a 55-foot depth at its deepest and has not been known to fall more than 10 feet. FLMD management has asked the residents to adopt the recommended Stage 1 Water Shortage Provisions posted at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Caption: Residents demand answers to the sudden closure of the Pinon Lake Trail in the Pinon Pines 1 subdivision in Forest Lakes. The popular trail was only open to the residents of the Forest Lakes Community and it remains closed until a solution can be found to fix the problem of the steep hills and hazardous terrain located around the dam. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
PPMD 1 meetings and joint meetings of FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3, are typically scheduled once a quarter at 4 p.m. Please check the website for the location and/or joining instructions for all of these four meetings. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact Nichols at (719) 327-5810 or at email@example.com.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
In July, the Woodmoor Water Sanitation District (WWSD) returned to in-person meetings but held the meeting in the Woodmoor Improvement Association’s Barn community center to allow for adequate social distancing.
The board heard an update from JVA Engineering on the work being done to upgrade the pump station at Woodmoor Lake that will move water from the lake to the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP). It considered an issue relating to water rights raised by the sale of the Walters property to the Woodmoor Open Space Committee LLC (WOSC) and a request from Jon Mills to have his property included in the district’s service area. Also, staff presented several operational reports.
Board ponders three options for pump station
Josh McGibbon and Richard Hood of JVA Engineering presented to the board the results of their planning relative to the pumping station at Lake Woodmoor. At present, water from the lake is sent to the South Water Treatment Plant (SWTP) since the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP) is not yet equipped to process surface water. Improvements to the CWTP to give it that capability are underway, and that effort requires expansion of the lake pump station capacity to provide surface water to the CWTP.
McGibbon and Hood also pointed out the existing pump station presented some challenges to maintenance, because it relies on a wet well that is 45 feet deep and must be drained to service the pumps, pipes, and valves.
McGibbon and Hood presented three options for the pump station:
• Improve the existing pump station.
• Construct a new pump station at the base of the dam on the south side of the lake.
• Construct a new pump station on the northwest side of the lake between two developed housing areas.
McGibbon and Hood recommended that the board pursue the second option presented along with the replacement of the existing lake outlet pipe and a new intake structure in the lake capable of drawing water from multiple levels in the lake, which the current intake is not able to do. McGibbon and Hood said they preferred this solution because it would ease access to the equipment, would provide a safer working environment for staff, and would allow additional pumps to be added in future.
The estimated cost of the new pumping station and other upgrades is $5.424 million.
District Manager Jessie Shaffer said he agreed with JVA Engineering’s recommendation and believed it was the best long-term fix for the district. He pointed out that the second option would enable water to be sent to both treatment plants, adding redundancy to the district’s infrastructure.
The board directed Shaffer to proceed with the second option presented by JVA Engineering.
Board approves agreements providing water to developer
Shaffer presented to the board two agreements intended to provide Proterra Properties LLC with water to use in its development of 38.7 acres of the Walters land in southern Woodmoor that they recently acquired with the intention of building 130 single-family homes. When Proterra Properties purchased the land from the Walters family, it received no water rights because the Walters family had already used those water rights in the construction of townhomes east of Lewis-Palmer High School.
The first agreement, which is between WOSC and Proterra Properties, specifies that WOSC will transfer its share of the WWSD water service, amounting to 3.044 acre-feet each year, to Proterra Properties for no additional consideration.
The second agreement, which is between WWSD and PT Cloverleaf LLC, a business related to Proterra Properties, specifies that WWSD will provide PT Cloverleaf with additional water to provide it with a total of 54.630 acre-feet per year, which is what the developers calculate they will need to service the residences they plan to build. The agreement also requires PT Cloverleaf to pay WWSD an option payment in 2020 amounting to $40,703. The option payment is to reserve the water only and does not apply to the purchase price of the water.
The board voted unanimously to give board President Brian Bush the authorization to sign both agreements.
Property owner requests inclusion in WWSD service area
Shaffer told the board that Jon Mills, owner of a property at 255 Cimarron Road, has requested that his property be included in the WWSD service area to provide water security and to allow Mills to pay the 7 percent residential tax rate instead of the 29 percent commercial tax rate he is currently paying. The El Paso County assessor has approved combining all Mills’s lots into one, if he can get all his lots into one water district.
WWSD Attorney Erin Smith told the board that the inclusion request would require a public hearing, and Bush scheduled the hearing as part of the board’s next meeting on Aug. 10.
Highlights of operational reports
• Well 21 is now online; its landscaping is in process.
• The South Water Treatment Plant is having an issue with malfunctioning controllers, requiring manual overrides in some situations.
• Pikes Peak Brewery improperly dumped 90 barrels of beer into its sewer line, which caused a spike in the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) measurement at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. Meetings may be held at the Woodmoor Barn Community Center rather that the district office; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Donala Water and Sanitation District General Manager Jeff Hodge and Superintendent of Water Operations Mark Parker led a discussion July 16 about the possible collaboration to construct a temporary wastewater pipeline to treat, on an interim basis, wastewater flows from the new U.S. Air Force Academy Visitors Center (AFAVC) at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF). Directors also received a bond refinancing presentation from Nate Eckloff of underwriter Piper Sandler and Co.
The directors met in person, and residents were welcome to participate online.
AFA temporary pipeline negotiations continue
Hodge updated the board and requested its input on the contract for the potential temporary wastewater pipeline for the AFAVC. Background: It is anticipated that the Academy, which receives wastewater treatment services from Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), will eventually connect its new AFAVC to the proposed regional wastewater system called the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI). The NMCI is subject to a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study before construction may begin. The NEPA study’s estimated completion date of July 2022, coupled with the actual construction of the NMCI, has the potential to delay the AFAVC’s opening by four to five years or longer.
CSU—by constructing a temporary pipeline from the AFAVC to Donala’s Northgate lift station that does not require a NEPA study and conveys the AFAVC’s flows to be treated at the UMCRWWTF—could potentially bring wastewater services to the Visitors Center a few years before the NMCI’s completion. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#tvmd.
The UMCRWWTF is partner-owned by Donala, Triview Metropolitan District, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD). In the temporary pipeline contract—which was under review and in Donala’s possession at the time of the board meeting—Triview would make available some of its apportioned wastewater treatment capacity to the AFAVC. See www.ocn.me/v20n4.htm#tvmd.
Parker voiced concerns about Triview’s arrangement, citing logistics, daily accounting documentation, Triview’s potential for future development (and subsequent increased wastewater capacity needs), and overall treatment capacity once the UMCRWWTF begins receiving the AFAVC’s estimated 120,000 gallons per day of wastewater flows. Should Triview exceed 80% of its capacity, it would need to begin a costly infrastructure project or borrow wastewater treatment capacity. The Donala-Triview-FLMD intergovernmental agreement provides few details about borrowing parameters, indicated Hodge.
Parker confirmed that Donala has the in-house capacity to receive the additional AFAVC wastewater flows since development of the district has essentially reached its limit and anticipated wastewater flows from the Western Museum of Mining and Industry would be negligible. Directors encouraged Hodge and Parker to pursue possible revisions with the temporary pipeline contract partners, CSU and Triview.
Bond refinancing possibilities outlined
Hodge explained that he and staff had been researching options for refinancing the district’s debt and thus arranged for Eckloff’s presentation.
Eckloff summarized the district’s debts that are good candidates for refinancing: The Laughlin ditch Water Right loan, which has a balloon payment of plus or minus $3.09 million due in 2022; 2011 revenue bonds that were issued through the Water and Power Authority are callable in 2021 and can be refinanced on a taxable basis; and a 2007 obligation that is currently callable and can be refinanced at a lower rate.
Considering overall debt capacity, revenues and expenses, and revenue available for debt service, Eckloff provided estimated savings. If the 2007 bonds were refinanced, Donala had the potential to save roughly $73,000 to $75,000, or $10,000 per year for the life of the bonds. Regarding the 2011 bonds, Eckloff confirmed "a very robust market for taxable municipal bonds" and calculated a savings of about $98,000 the first year and $110,000 to $111,000 annually thereafter. For the Laughlin loan, Eckloff did not foresee savings but—primarily to improve cashflow—recommended stretching the balloon payment for an additional 20 years with a first-year rate of 0.6% and a high rate of 2.27% in 2040. He also suggested that Donala use its entire debt service reserve fund since it’s not earning close to the bond yield and because liquidity eliminates a lot of uncertainty for rating agencies.
The aggregate result, according to the estimates, was an average annual debt service of $775,000, about $600,000 less than what the district currently pays. Aside from savings and enhanced cashflow, Eckloff promoted the debt refinancing to achieve a level debt service structure that would furnish rate and management benefits and to consolidate three issues into two, which would reduce fees. He cautioned that the district would need to act as quickly as possible to take advantage of the lower rates.
The directors expressed hesitancy about depleting the debt service reserve fund but conveyed appreciation for Eckloff’s detailed report. They indicated a desire to discuss the options as a board and consider the information when establishing the 2021 budget.
Water demand met despite obstacles
June’s weather was "hot, dry, and windy … everything that we don’t want," reported Parker. Water production reached 36.72 million gallons compared to May’s 36.62 million total, and both water plants were running. Summer conditions were exacerbated by a 36-inch CSU water tank leak along Voyager Parkway. The leak, discovered on July 9, required Donala to curtail operations at its Northgate Boulevard plant, but staff members were able to manage water needs with other plants and wells. The depth of the leak and the presence of other utilities complicated matters such that the repair required three days to complete. Parker stated that communication between Donala and CSU during this challenge was excellent.
The disabled well 7 also failed to produce good news. The gravel-packed well pump proved to be unrecoverable. Staff and engineers planned to research the cause of the mysterious inundation of gravel before increasing the well’s depth and installing a new, smaller pump. Parker estimated it would take two months to get the well functional again.
Road repair angst
Parker confirmed that Donala decided to include the Westchester Drive cul-de-sac south of Gleneagle Drive in its 2020 watermain replacement project. The El Paso County Department of Public Works, however, stipulated that Donala must repave the entire cul-de-sac with a 4-inch asphalt overlay once the water main work was complete. Because Donala’s work is expected to damage only a 4-foot section of the road, Parker stated that he intended to appeal the county’s decision and pointed out that the project may have to be forfeited due to the additional costs.
• Hodge confirmed that mid-year financials looked strong. Most revenues and expenses aligned at 50% except a few expenses that were necessary to establish newly hired staff.
• The long-awaited press for the residual management facility arrived July 9. Donala registered zero arsenic discharge for a second consecutive month. See https://ocn.me/v20n7.htm#dwsd for additional information about arsenic and the residual management facility.
• The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority regionalization subcommittee was scheduled to meet July 23 and expected to cover topics related to the NMCI and return flows.
• Eastern and central El Paso County continued to be classified as severe drought and moderate drought, respectively, as of July 7.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10 p.m.
Board meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 20. The meeting may be held in person or as an online video meeting, depending on the status of coronavirus restrictions; call (719) 488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. When the board meets in person, meetings are held in the district office conference room. See https://www.donalawater.org to access prior meeting minutes and the 2020 meeting calendar.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
At its July 23 meeting, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors voted on an appropriative right of exchange resolution and provided direction to District Manager Jim McGrady on a ballot initiative. The board also reviewed and considered for approval a developer’s request to form a subdistrict, and the district’s 2019 financial audit.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, landscaping, and parks and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. See https://triviewmetro.com/districtMap for a map of district boundaries.
The two-part July board packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_RegularMeeting_2020-07-23_part1.pdf and https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_RegularMeeting_2020-07-23_part2.pdf.
District seeks to repurpose mill levy revenue
Seeking discussion from the directors, McGrady reviewed his draft of a Nov. 3, 2020 general election ballot initiative. Currently, Triview may collect up to 35 mills from district residents, and the revenue may only be used to pay the district’s debt service. Because revenue for the district’s operations such as snowplowing, mowing, and park and landscape stewardship comes only from building fees and sales tax, McGrady proposed repurposing up to 7 of the potential 35 mills that may be collected. He emphasized that this change would not add to the number of mills collected but simply makes available up to 7 mills’ worth of revenue to support operations.
"The 7 mills ensure a revenue stream for maintaining the district to the level that, I believe, the residents expect" and for preventing the deterioration of infrastructure, said McGrady. He continued to explain that the mills repurposed for operations could be adjusted—within the limit of the 7-mill cap—according to the balance of sales tax and building fee revenue against operational needs.
The board directed McGrady to continue the necessary steps for Triview’s participation in the Nov. 3 general election.
Request granted; resolution approved
McGrady presented a letter pertaining to the Conexus development west of Interstate 25. Schuck Communities Inc., the managing company, requested approval to form a subdistrict of the Conexus property within Triview and to include the formation of the subdistrict on the Nov. 3 ballot.
This action would provide a tool for installing infrastructure such as detention ponds, water mains, streets, curb, and gutter along the narrow strip of land with general boundaries between Beacon Lite Road (or Old Denver Highway) and Interstate 25, and north of Baptist Road and south of Second Street. If voters approve the subdistrict, the estimated limit that Conexus could borrow would be about $32 million. The board approved the Schuck request, which gives Schuck the option to bring the decision to voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
Another action item addressed by the directors included resolution 2020-08, whereby Triview expressed its intent to appropriate an appropriative right of exchange on the Arkansas River. Water attorney Chris Cummins explained that the resolution confirms the time when the intent to appropriate an exchange on the Arkansas River was established. An appropriative right of exchange, he continued, allows the district to take water from an upstream location rather than a downstream location, which creates a "legal fiction" that water is being moved uphill.
This resolution was a necessary step in anticipation of the district filing an application later this year or early 2021 to change its Excelsior Irrigating Co. water rights to municipal use. The board approved the resolution. See www.ocn.me/v20n6.htm#tvmd for information about Triview’s purchase of Stonewall Springs Reservoir Co. water and water rights and Excelsior Irrigating Co. shares.
Audit extended; online sales tax revenue vetted
Audit Manager Christine McCleod of Haynie and Co. presented Triview’s 2019 audit. Haynie anticipated issuing an unmodified opinion on the financial statements, did not discover new or unusual accounting policies, and did not find adjustments or disagreements with management. McCleod confirmed that total assets, capital assets, and total net position increased from the past year. Total assets rose from about $72 million to about $80 million. Due to capital project budget amendments that are scheduled to be presented for approval at the Aug. 18 board meeting, Triview requested an extended deadline of Sept. 30 for filing the audit with the state. The board approved the 2019 audited financial statements, pending the 2019 budget amendment approval, and filing the audit with the State of Colorado.
Accountant Kathy Fromm of Fromm and Co. reviewed the mid-year revenues and expenses. During her coverage of sales tax revenue, the board deliberated on how to get more accurate collection of sales taxes generated by internet purchases. Fromm confirmed that local taxes on internet sales, which are collected by the state on behalf of statutory towns such as Monument, may not always be fully credited to the recipient towns due to incomplete information. She recommended enlisting the help of the Colorado Association of Municipal Tax Auditors.
Infrastructure projections communicated
McGrady reported having received an update from Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) about the potential regional wastewater pipeline called the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI). Triview and five other wastewater districts in the Tri-Lakes region would use the NMCI to transport wastewater flows to the J. D. Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility in Colorado Springs for treatment. CSU completed a routing alternatives analysis and expected to begin the required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) studies soon. Participant districts received agreements that spell out their responsibilities, including expenses, in the design phase. The NEPA studies could be completed by July 2022 and after a one-year construction phase, the NMCI may be functional by November 2023.
Switching to the topic of clean water, McGrady reported that great strides were being made on a northern delivery pipeline for drinking water. Engineering firm JDS-Hydro Consultants Inc. anticipated that it would achieve 60% design completion in time to advertise bid requests in 2021. This pipeline is critical for Triview and other northern El Paso County water districts to transport renewable water from long-distance sources and not rely on the nonrenewable Denver Basin groundwater supply.
Goodbye to parks and open space ace
Directors and staff bade farewell to Superintendent of Parks and Open Space Jay Bateman and presented him with a certificate of appreciation. President Mark Melville spoke on behalf of everyone in praising Bateman’s outstanding work in restoring the district’s landscaping and other aesthetics. Bateman, who left his position for relocation purposes, thanked McGrady and the board for supporting his vision and predicted a great future for the district in the hands of his successor, Matt Rayno.
Public works pondered
Rayno acknowledged that 30 or more ash trees had suffered irreparable damage due to October 2019 weather. He planned to begin planting replacement trees—possibly autumn blaze maples, western hackberries, or spring snow crabapples—in mid-August. The first week of August will mark the beginning of concrete work such as curb, gutter, and sidewalk repairs and installing a driveway for the water department’s A-plant.
Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton noted the month’s water statistics. The district produced 41.29 million gallons in June 2020 as compared to 30.45 million gallons in June 2019. The board discussed ways to unravel the information and determine if the dramatic change is more reflective of an increase in the number of homes or an increase in water consumption. McGrady cautioned that weather conditions in 2019 produced snows in May and a much wetter June, which might skew the information. He suggested comparing July data from the two years instead.
The district completed its potable water compliance testing of nitrate, fluoride, lead, and copper and awaits its test results for radionuclides—a weeks-long, possibly even months-long, process.
At 7:21 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) legal advice, negotiations. The board did not take actions or make decisions following the executive session.
Caption: Triview Metropolitan District conducted an appreciation ceremony at its July 23 board meeting. Directors celebrated the work of outgoing Superintendent of Parks and Open Space Jay Bateman (left), who is leaving for relocation purposes. President Mark Melville (right) presented Bateman with a plaque and commended him for his great work throughout the district. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
The next Triview board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 18. Check the district’s event calendar at https://triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for meeting schedule updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in-person or conference call. In-person board meetings are held at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During the July 6 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, two land development projects were approved. The board also approved an unbudgeted request from the Police Department to comply with a new Colorado law.
Trustee Jamie Unruh was absent.
Willow Springs Ranch/Monument Creek Ranch site plan approved
The board reviewed the Final PD Site Plan for Willow Springs Ranch, a 219-acre property west of I-25 and north of Forest Lakes/Baptist Road. The 399 single-family homes will be built after all the infrastructure, including roads, water, and sewer lines, are built. The land was annexed into the town during the May 6, 2019 BOT meeting. See www.ocn.me/v19n6.htm#mbot.
One main road (Willow Ranch Road) will connect Synthes Avenue to the north and Forest Lakes/Baptist Road at the south end, which is intended to reduce congestion on existing town roads. A trail system will parallel the main road.
A bridge over Monument Creek will be built at a cost of $250,000 by the town.
The Town of Monument will supply the water. In October, the town originally nixed annexation of this land because the board wasn’t sure it could adequately provide water to all the residents. See www.ocn.me/v18n11.htm#mbot1015.
Five acres of land will be dedicated to District 38 schools. Although there are almost 100 acres of open space that will include four parks, the majority of this is environmentally sensitive land, so it will not be used as recreation area. See www.ocn.me/v19n6.htm#mbot.
This was approved at the June 10 Planning Commission meeting. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#mpc.
John Maynard of NES Inc., representing owner Polo Brown Co., said four wells will be drilled on the southern boundary of the property, and these will be surrounded a dog park and community garden.
Maynard also said trails will connect into the Forest Lakes property where residents can gain access to the national forest. Fitness stations may be placed along the spine trail.
Trustee Ron Stephens asked about the metro district, which was established by the previous owner. No one from the public spoke during the hearing portion. The request was approved 5-1 with Trustee Laurie Clark voting against with no reason given.
Monument Ridge Filing No. 2
Monument Ridge is a 3.42-acre site south of Baptist Road and east of Struthers Road. The proposal includes about 27,000 square feet of office and commercial space.
Owner Ed Ellsworth did not give a presentation, but Debbie Flynn, planner for the town, described the property to the board, explaining the only request from the Planning Commission was to have the exterior decorative wall sconces turned off from dusk to dawn in agreement with the dark skies ordinance.
The board unanimously approved this request.
Tasers to be replaced
Chief Sean Hemingway asked the board to approve $12,300 to replace the Police Department’s entire taser inventory to comply with Colorado Senate Bill 20-217.
The recently passed bill, also called "Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity," was signed in June by Gov. Jared Polis. Section 5 defines the use of physical force, requiring officers to use all forms of non-violent means to carry out their duties. This section takes effect Sept. 1.
The Monument Police Department owns six tasers, a non-violent form of arrest control, but all six are out of service. The board approved this request.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kate Pangelinan
July 8 regular meeting
A new Monument Planning Commission (PC) member, Martin Trujillo, was sworn in by Town Manager Mike Foreman at the July 8 regular meeting. Chairman Melanie Strop and Co-Chairman Daniel Ours were present at the meeting, along with commissioners Bill Lewis, Chris Wilhelmi and Sean White. Planner Debbie Flynn presented the night’s proposals.
Further information about all projects the PC discussed for both this meeting and the second special meeting on July 22 can be found in the meeting packets located at www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com. After another meeting has taken place and the minutes from the prior meeting have been approved by the PC, those minutes will also be posted on this site. As such, the July 8 minutes are already available for public review. These latest PC meetings, along with many older ones, can be found recorded on the Town of Monument’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA.
Falcon Commerce Center Rezone and Sketch Plan
Some facts about the Falcon Commerce Center project:
• This land is required to be rezoned from Planned Industrial Park (PIP) to Planned Development (PD). This is because the PIP zoning from 1989 is no longer a recognized form of zoning in Monument. Regency Park’s Planned Industrial Development and Planned Commercial Development zones combined are nearest to the zoning standards. The only change will be the addition of multi-family residential housing to the list of approved uses.
• The property is south of Baptist Road, west of I-25 and north of the Air Force Academy. It comprises 214 acres. The primary access is expected to be off Baptist Road via Terrazzo Drive. Visitors will also be able to enter from the west onto Woodcarver Road via Squadron Drive and through two points of access to the southern parcel of land. It has been proposed to add a second bridge over Jackson Creek paralleling the existent bridge in order to provide the access points. At some point during the development and the development of other properties in the area, a traffic signal will be warranted along Baptist Road and Terrazzo Drive.
• Sidewalks will be available for pedestrian use.
• The property is divided from A-D into separate areas, a map of which can be found in the packet online.
• The current rules state that no more than three vehicular crossings may be made across Santa Fe trail within the development. One crossing is being used to access the wastewater treatment facility, which would allow for two others to serve the property.
• Andrea Barlow of NES was available to answer questions and provide further slides.
• A few questions were asked regarding the maximum building height of 100 feet. In regard to whether this could lead to issues with the Air Force Academy, it was answered that there would be a requirement to include notifications, but height itself shouldn’t pose an issue. It was stated that although an allowance of 100 feet could conceivably lead to buildings reaching eight to nine stories, most apartments stop at four stories. When asked if these buildings could obstruct the view, Barlow stated that it’s unlikely there would be such tall buildings on the property.
• The applicant is listed as NES Inc., and the property owner is Forest Lakes LLC.
• In regard to a rumor that a strip club might open south of Baptist Road, it was explained that adult entertainment services are not allowed by the code.
• There was a discussion about whether "the zoning code is out of compliance with the comprehensive plan" or "the comprehensive plan is out of compliance with the zoning code." The planners explained the currently approved process of vetting proposals.
• In the discussion period before the vote, Wilhelmi expressed that he was "not satisfied by the presentation." He would have liked to see what a 100-foot building would look like against the skyline and is frustrated to be operating under permitted uses that are "undefined" and under revision.
• There was a public comment question about traffic, after which it was explained that traffic will be assessed each time an applicant requests to build something.
Before the vote, Strop provided Wilhelmi an opportunity to propose a condition for approval of the project. If a movement with a condition does not get a second, it won’t go to vote. Wilhelmi was not sure how to put his ideal condition into words but explained his concerns about the way this area may develop. In the end, Strop moved to approve this proposal as written, and the motion passed 4-1, with Wilhelmi voting against.
Redline Pipeline Office/Warehouse Planned Development Final Site Plan
The PC considered the Redline Pipeline Office/Warehouse Planned Development Final Site Plan. Some facts about the project:
• The project site is 1.98 acres east of Beacon Lite Road, about one-half mile north of State Highway 105.
• It is intended to be an office/warehouse and storage yard on Lot 5 of Wolf Business Park Filing No. 2. The building is intended to be 15,000 square feet, with a 10,000-square-foot warehouse and a 5,000-square-foot business office. Four bay doors are expected for equipment access into and out of the warehouse. There will also be a "fenced outdoor storage yard, required parking, and landscaping," according to the meeting packet. The building is expected to comprise three shades of grey, the office’s "main color" being "charcoal grey."
• The storage yard will be surrounded by a chain link fence with 98% opaque slats.
• Access will be through Wolf Court, not Beacon Lite Road.
• Peak Equipment is expected to be located to the east, and Tri-Lakes Collision is anticipated to the south.
• Employees are expected to pick up materials from the site in the morning, go to job sites, and then come back and unload unused materials/prepare for the coming projects. The company is currently working out of a home in Monument and is now looking for another place to run the business.
• El Paso County’s landscaping standards dictate that trees are required along Beacon Lite Road’s right of way. The exact number of trees has not yet been determined. The rest of the landscaping is expected to involve native grasses, mulch, crushed rock, and planted boulders.
• The Planning Department recommended approval of this project, with the condition that all approved trees are planted to screen the development.
• There are plans to widen Beacon Lite from 105 to County Line Road. As soon as that is done, Monument is expected to annex the road. The road currently belongs to the county.
• The applicant for this project is listed as RMG Architects & Engineers, and the property owner is R.L. Wolf Properties LLC.
This project was approved for recommendation by the PC, with the condition that El Paso County’s approved number of trees be planted. The vote was unanimous, 5-0.
Freedom Express Car Wash Final Planned Development Site Plan
Some facts about the Freedom Express Car Wash project:
• This project is west of Jackson Creek Parkway, accessible through a private drive to the south and west (Jackson Creek to Cinematic View.) The recently approved Ferrari Films is anticipated to be built to the north.
• The property will be built on Lot 6 of Monument Marketplace North Filing No. 1. It is 1.24 acres, with the project expected to comprise 5,966 square feet or 12% site coverage. There is supposed to be "a single tunnel (car) wash bay, an office area, a unisex restroom, equipment room and a self-service dog wash," as explained in a letter from project architect Bruce Barkey in the meeting packet. The car wash facility is anticipated to be open during daylight hours, seven days a week, with two to four employees present while operational.
• The buildings are expected to feature "stucco, stone veneer, concrete masonry unit, metal panel cladding, rough sawn timbers, steel and glass."
• In accordance with standards, there are to be 21 parking/vacuum spaces, and 20 stacking spaces.
• Various features such as bike racks, landscaping, and underground utilities to serve the building are expected.
• The applicant for this project is listed as Matt & Christy Musser, and the property owner is Jackson Creek Land Co.
This proposal was also approved unanimously, 5-0.
July 22 special meeting
Chairman Strop was present at July’s second meeting, along with Planning Commissioners Trujillo, White, Wilhelmi, and Steve King. Planner Debbie Flynn presented summaries of the proposals.
ABC Landscaping Warehouse/Outdoor Storage Rezone and PD Preliminary/Final Site Plan
Some facts about the ABC Landscaping Warehouse/Outdoor Storage project:
• This project is located west of I-25, a half-mile north of State Highway 105. It is 5 acres. Wolf Business Court is to the south.
• The site plan calls for a 5,120-square-foot warehouse/shop, with a chain-link fence, outdoor storage for landscaping equipment, and required parking. Mature trees will screen the shop from all sides from the inside of the fence, and there will be a wall light on the exterior of the building. The facility would be expected to operate for 10-hour days, four to five days a week, with four to six employees taking roughly 20 trips a day between them. Employees generally return about 5 p.m. after working at a jobsite, and since this is not a retail business, clients/customers are not expected to visit the property.
• ABC Landscaping has been a locally owned business for over 30 years. The current owner is retiring soon, and his son is expected to take over.
• The proposal includes changing the current Planned Commercial Development zoning to Planned Development zoning, which is not so much a request as a requirement of the town’s Municipal Code.
• Questions were emailed in to be read during the public comment section. It was explained that the chain-link fence will be 6 feet high, and equipment like rock, trees, firewood, and gravel is anticipated to be stored on the property.
• There is not expected to be any need for a turn lane or a traffic light leaving/coming into this property.
• The applicant is listed as ABC Landscaping Inc., and the property owner is Dellacroce Ranch LLC.
This proposal was approved unanimously, 5-0.
Caption: The proposed Falcon Commerce Center would lie on 160-plus acres west of I-25 and south of Baptist Road. It is to be considered by the Monument BOT Aug. 17. Map courtesy the Town of Monument.
Caption: Wolf Business Park, just off Beacon Lite Road, is a 14.18-acre zoned Planned Development property owned by Westward Properties. It was approved and annexed into the town during the Sept. 5, 2017 Board of Trustees meeting. See www.ocn.me/v17n10.htm#mbot. Redline Pipeline Office/Warehouse vicinity map shown. Courtesy the Town of Monument.
Caption: So far, Tri-Lakes Collision and Peak Equipment Rental have moved into the Wolf Business Park. In August, the board will hear requests from Redline Pipeline, a business approved by the Planning Commission during its July 8 meeting. Photo by Allison Robenstein drawings of the proposed warehouse courtesy the Town of Monument.
Only one regular PC meeting is expected in August. PC meetings will be held online over the next few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) July 20 meeting, the board scheduled a workshop to discuss a potential 2021 tax increase ballot issue for the town. It also approved two water use resolutions and heard numerous presentations.
The board confirmed there will be no mask enforcement in the town unless a local business calls for the police to issue a trespassing ticket. Town Manager Mike Foreman said the town strives to educate those not wearing a mask. Residents who call the police regarding mask-wearing issues will be encouraged to call the El Paso County Health Department.
Trustee Laurie Clark was absent.
Public safety tax increase ballot question
The board will hold a workshop on Aug. 3 before the regular meeting to discuss a ballot question for the November election to increase local sales tax.
With the increase to Monument’s population, the police force calls for service have increased 53% over the last 10 years. The local sales tax rate would increase from 3% to 3.25%. This new revenue stream, expected to be $700,000 in 2021 alone, would pay for additional officers, operating equipment, and training.
North Monument Creek Interceptor Project and water issues
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish updated the board on the North Monument Creek Interceptor project, which is being led by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU).
Background: CSU is working with local wastewater treatment systems including Monument’s to build a gravity-fed sewer line to the J.D. Phillips Water Resource Reclamation Facility, eliminating two electricity-hungry sewage lift stations.
Tharnish explained that after water flows through a home and becomes wastewater, "The state allows you to recapture all of the water and use it to extinction to use over and over." So, the problem of recapturing this water is being discussed.
To solve this problem, a CSU-owned water tank at Highway 83 and Northgate Boulevard will connect to a pipeline that runs to Old Denver Highway. This creates interconnectivity with the town and other entities.
Tharnish also discussed water projects including the radium issue with Well 9. Ninety percent of the design of the filtration system is complete and is their highest priority. He expects to have a construction contract to the board in early 2021 with completion in August next year.
In the meantime, Well 3 had a pump and motor failure. Upon inspection, the team found a hole in the pipe that also requires repair. This well provides about 10% of the town’s water. The cost for replacement and repair is $95,000. Funds will come from the Water Enterprise Contingency Fund.
Tharnish said Well 8 also requires emergency repairs due to a pump failure. This well provides 20% of the town’s water supply, and the cost to repair it could be as high as $95,000 because of the extreme well depth. Public Works will ask residents to decrease their water needs for the next few weeks. The town will also reduce park and cemetery irrigation.
All of these requests were approved unanimously.
Jackson Creek Parkway widening
Town Manager Mike Foreman told the board the town’s portion of the Jackson Creek Parkway widening project is moving forward. The segment of Jackson Creek Parkway from Higby Road to Highway 105 is owned by the town.
Triview Metropolitan District completed a widening project that spans from Baptist Road to Higby Road, converting the thoroughfare into a four-lane divided roadway.
The design phase of the project will be largely paid for by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), which is providing $800,000 for the project with a 20% required match from the town.
The total cost to design and construct the road is estimated at about $10 million, and the town is concerned about a shortfall of money. "We expect developer participation and additional PPACG funding, but we still forecast a shortfall in funding," said Foreman.
Project updates veterans’ memorial
Michael Carlson proposed a Boy Scout Eagle project for the Monument Cemetery. Carlson’s father is a Vietnam veteran. The project would be complete in September with a planned ceremony on Oct. 3. Carlson has raised most of the $40,000 required to build the memorial.
Town manager’s report
• CARES Act checks will be going out to 30 local businesses starting next week.
• The board, town manager, attorney, and clerk attended a two-day retreat and training on June 26 and 27.
The meeting adjourned at 8:28 pm.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 3 Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees met twice in July: on July 9 and 23. The meetings were held in person at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.
In both meetings, issues and concerns arising from the high numbers of people visiting the lake took center stage. The board also considered requests for two special event permits and a vacation of a right of way. The board discussed how an ordinance concerning odor enforcement should be worded and enforced, and how an ordinance governing sexually oriented businesses should be written. A resolution permitting the town to set up an electronic sign was approved, and a business license was granted. A resolution to define criteria for lighting the town star was approved.
Trustees ponder how to manage crowds at lake
At the July 9 meeting, Interim Town Manager Bob Radosevich kicked off a lengthy discussion of how to manage the increased number of visitors to the lake. Radosevich mentioned trash, overcrowded parking, destruction of wildlife habitat, unattended campfires, and vandalism of the restroom facilities in his remarks. The restroom had to be closed to prevent vandalism, Radosevich said, adding that although porta potties were provided, some visitors to the lake refused to use them.
Radosevich suggested the Board of Trustees might consider requiring permits, fees, or banning watercraft at the lake altogether to reduce the number of visitors.
Trustee Glant Havenar told the board that in her experience asking visitors to obey the rules was not effective: "They flip us off and walk away." She also mentioned that abandoned fishing line, fishing hooks, and bait caused problems.
At the July 9 meeting, Mayor John Cressman expressed concerns about water quality in the lake.
Also at the July 9 meeting, Reid Wiecks, speaking on behalf of the town’s Parks Commission, mentioned that the commission had previously drafted a resolution closing the lake to all boats, but that resolution had not gone forward. Managing the lake was complicated, Wiecks pointed out, by the fact that El Paso County is responsible for the parking lot, the restroom, and the Santa Fe Trail that leads to the lake.
Cressman wrapped up the discussion of the issue at the July 9 meeting by saying he wanted to see more police enforcement at the lake, and that he wanted to get input from the town’s restaurant operators about what rule changes might mean to their business.
At the July 23 meeting, Cressman said the water quality in the lake had been tested, and the coliform measurement was low, indicating acceptable water quality.
Trustee Mark Schuler asked if the use of the lake could be restricted to town residents. Town Attorney Matthew Krob said he would look into that. Havenar pointed out that the Colorado Department of Wildlife stocked the lake with fish, and that she believed that the number of agencies responsible for different aspects of the lake complicated any effort to restrict its use to residents only.
At the July 23 meeting, Parks Commission member Alicia Gaddi told the board that the water level in the lake is down 8 feet since last year, and for that reason the aerator had not been turned on. She said the commission had painted the pavilion and put on a new roof.
At the same meeting, Trustee Paul Banta said that the town would have to develop strategies to manage the lake that are "unpopular but effective." Banta has frequently argued in favor of limiting growth in the town and keeping it a small quiet town.
Board votes on special event permits
The board heard two requests for special event permits: the first from April Fullman on behalf of the Awake the Lake Committee and the second from Pat Lawcourt of Pikes Peak Roadrunners.
Fullman told the board her event was called the TRYathlon, that it had been held the previous year, and was a fundraiser for Awake the Lake. The event consists of a trip across the lake in an inner tube, a short run, and a short bike ride to the playground by the lake. The event had been re-thought in light of COVID-19 restrictions, she said.
Trustees Patricia Mettler and Susan Miner both expressed concern about any event that encouraged crowds being held due to concerns about COVID-19. Trustee Bob Mutu spoke in favor of holding the event.
In the discussion of the event, it became clear that if 70 people participated and there were others at the lake not participating, the total number of people would exceed the recommendations for event size. Town resident Matt Stephen suggested that the lake be closed while the event was underway.
Following the discussion, Trustees Schuler and Mutu voted to hold the event, and Trustees Banta, Havener, Miner, and Mettler voted no. Cressman also voted no. The permit was not approved.
Lawcourt told the board that her running event, called the Two Shoes Trek Challenge, was designed to be completely virtual—there would be no course marshals, no volunteers, and no aid stations. Runners who signed up for the event could run the course at any time over two days and would report on their run to the event’s organizers.
Trustees Schuler, Banta, Miner, Mutu and Mettler, as well as Cressman, voted to approve the permit. Trustee Havener voted no.
Board votes on request to vacate right of way
Realtor Sara Smith came before the board at the July 23 meeting to request the vacation of a right of way to the south of three lots her customer was interested in buying. The Palmer Lake Planning Commission had already approved the vacation, she said, on the condition that the interior lot lines for the properties be eliminated.
Miner and other board members expressed concern that vacating the right of way could make it impossible for the town to access an alluvial well that the town may someday need to drill. Smith was able to demonstrate to their satisfaction that the town would have access to the alluvial well site through a different path.
Trustees Banta, Havener, Miner, Mettler and Mutu voted to approve the vacation. Cressman also voted yes. Schuler voted no.
Odor ordinance discussion focuses on cannabis businesses
At the July 23 meeting, the board debated language for an ordinance addressing odor enforcement for cannabis businesses. Krob told the board that the town code requires cannabis businesses to use odor controls, but the challenge is how to measure the level of odor outside the business. Krob recommended amending the code to require odor controls that "filter out the odor of marijuana so that the odor is not capable of being detected by a person with a normal sense of smell at the exterior of the center or facility or any adjoining business, parcel or tract of real property."
Trustee Banta said he felt the board had been too lenient on this issue in the past.
The discussion that followed focused on how to make the question of odor measurable in an objective way. Some municipalities use a piece of equipment called a Nasal Ranger to measure odor levels.
Melissa Woodward, owner of one of the town’s cannabis businesses, said she was committed to improving her business’s performance in eliminating odor and that she had acted promptly to address odor issues when they were reported to her business.
Resident Gary Atkins said the odor of cannabis was impinging on his right to enjoy his residence.
Cressman ended the discussion by asking staff to investigate empirical ways of measuring odor, adding that the town made a mistake in allowing cannabis cultivation so close to residences.
Ordinance governing sexually-oriented businesses debated
In response to a question from Trustee Miner, Krob said the town could not ban all sexually oriented businesses outright but could regulate where they could do business. Banta argued such businesses should not be allowed within 2,000 feet of parks, churches, schools, residences and other sexually oriented businesses.
The board voted unanimously to table the ordinance until they have a chance to determine the appropriate distance between the businesses and parks, churches, schools, and residences and other sexually oriented businesses.
Electronic sign permitted
The board voted to allow the town to implement an electronic sign that will be exempt from the regulations governing signs.
Business license granted
The board voted unanimously to grant a business license to Hairapy Salon, located at 47 Highway 105.
Resolution defining when to light town star approved
The board approved unanimously a resolution specifying that the star will be lit on Memorial weekend, on July 4, on Thanksgiving weekend, and by request to commemorate citizens who have served the community. The resolution also names the mayor and mayor pro tem as the decision-makers who will decide on special requests.
Caption: On July 2, Tri-Lakes area residents and others took advantage of the warm weather to get an early start on the Fourth of July weekend. The lake at Palmer Lake was teeming with fishermen, kayakers, paddleboarders, and those just enjoying a relaxing time along the beach and at the nearby playground. Photo by David Futey.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold two meetings in August, on Aug. 13 and 23 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, with the second meeting organized as a working session. Information: 481-2953.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) received an update on the I-25 Gap project at its final meeting in June. At its July 14 meeting, it approved a request to allow a Verizon cell tower to be constructed to improve cellular coverage in the Roller Coaster Road area.
New Verizon cell tower
At its July 14 meeting, the BOCC approved a special use request for construction of a new Verizon cell tower on part of a 35-acre property at the southeast corner of the Higby Road and Happy Landing Drive intersection. The property is zoned A-5 (Agricultural) and owned by Aspen Willow Estates.
The tower will address a gap in Verizon cellular coverage that generally extends along the Roller Coaster Road corridor from Highway 105 to Hodgen Road. It will be designed to mimic a large pine tree with faux branches to conceal the antennae and will be 75 feet tall and about 20 feet wide. It will be installed in a stand of existing pine trees in the southwest corner of the site and will extend about 30 feet above them. A fenced equipment compound at the tower’s base will house a generator and equipment storage facilities. Access to the site will be via Happy Landing Drive.
The El Paso County Planning Commission (EPCPC) heard the item at its June 16 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend it for approval. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm?zoom_highlight=verizon. The application was elevated to the public hearing process after a letter of opposition was received. No one spoke in opposition at the Planning Commission hearing. A resident spoke in support, referring to the current poor cell service in the area. The application was treated as a consent item at the BOCC hearing, meaning there was no discussion, although members of the public can still speak for or against such items.
I-25 Gap update
At their June 30 meeting, the commissioners received an update on the I-25 Gap project from Paul Neiman, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) project director, I-25 south gap project. The project is adding a third lane, an express lane, in each direction to the 18-mile stretch of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock. The work will also widen the shoulder inside and outside the travel lanes to improve safety and drainage.
Neiman said that the overall project remains "pretty much" on budget and on schedule, with the COVID-19 outbreak having caused only minor delays in the supply chain. The northern part of the project is due for completion in November, and the southern section, which is in the northern part of El Paso County, is due to be completed in 2022. He told the commissioners that the approximate seven-month closure of Monument Hill Road to allow for the construction of a wildlife crossing, which was originally planned to start in May, would now begin in August.
Planning Commission bylaw amendments
At the July 14 BOCC meeting, the commissioners approved changes to the EPCPC bylaws to allow the commission flexibility in scheduling its meetings and in conducting them remotely by telephone or other electronic means when necessary. The EPCPC had agreed to these changes at its July 7 meeting.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the EPCPC has been meeting at 1 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., on the first and third Tuesday of the month, rather than at the Pikes Peak Regional Building Center, and some commissioners and members of the public have participated remotely. These amendments now formalize these arrangements and the commission will continue to meet at this venue, but on the first and third Thursdays of the month, for the remainder of 2020.
• July 14—the commissioners set the survey area and established Aug. 4 as the hearing date for the liquor license application by Flying Horse Country Club d/b/a The Club at Flying Horse to be located on Stagecoach Road. This is part of the Flying Horse North development.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on July 22 to approve work in The Barn and to provide monthly reports. President Brian Bush thanked board member Rich Wretschko for his long and honorable service to the community on the WIA board, announcing that Wretschko was stepping down because his family is moving to Tennessee. Board members Brad Gleason, Bert Jean, and Per Suhr were absent.
Covenants Director Ed Miller reported on six issues in June, including one open fire pit and one slash burning incident, each of which merited $5,000 fire fines. Bush noted that several years ago WIA identified fire as the top threat to the community and raised related fines to a minimum of $5,000. The board hopes the message will get out to the community that it cannot afford to have anything dangerous going on.
Wretschko requested funds to replace the carpet downstairs in The Barn and the handrails on the stairs leading downstairs which are not up to code. The board unanimously approved spending up to $10,000 from the reserve funds, with additional review if the cost exceeded the maximum bid of $7,400.
• Treasurer Connie Brown reported that there are 133 unpaid accounts. Two hundred letters were sent to residents who were late in paying their dues. For those who do not contact WIA to arrange payments, a lien will be placed on their property for the total cost of $300. Dues are about $253.
• A replacement Jeep will arrive shortly. After equipment and decals are installed, the 2016 Jeep will be sold. A new pickup truck that was approved for WIA staff will arrive in August.
• There have been numerous reports of bears in the community. Residents are encouraged to store trash cans and bird feeders in the garage at night.
• The Architectural Control Committee reported that 101 projects were submitted in June. In the year to date, projects are up 37%, perhaps due to more people staying at home.
• Due to increased demand, fish will not be available until July 29 as the WIA restocks the ponds in the open spaces.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in The Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be Aug. 26.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
Dr. Bob McCollom developed Pleasant View Estates east of the Air Force Academy in the 1960s. Every bank in Colorado Springs said it was impossible to develop Pleasant View since no one would buy so far out there, and home contractors charged a premium to drive from Colorado Springs too.
McCollom sold his X-ray machine to buy a road grader to build the roads in Pleasant View and a connection through Sun Hills Estates to the interstate. Stella Drive is named after the wife of George Hardesty, who sold him his 435-acre ranch. Deby, Tari, and Becky Drives are named after McCollom’s daughters.
McCollom wished he could build an airport so that colonels from the Academy could fly their planes to work and home again. One colonel who lived on Raton Road was the original "Blue Angel." But the cost of burying the power line along Baptist Road was prohibitive. "I guess I was just dreaming," said McCollom, who is now 97.
In about June 1964, The Baptist Assembly Camp almost burned down, but McCollom was able to contain the fire by circling it with his road grader.
Longtime Pleasant View resident Howard Crites told of another fire, started by careless people on July 4, 1996, between Pleasant View and Gleneagle.
To learn more about the history of Pleasant View Estates, Dr. Bob can be reached via email@example.com.
Caption: This 1964 photo from Pleasant View Estates looking southwest toward the Air Force Academy shows not one house in Sun Hills Estates or Gleneagle. Northgate Road is in the center. Falcon Stadium was not yet built. Photo by Rita Von Saken.
Caption: 2020 photo from Pleasant View Estates. Photo courtesy of Marge and Howard Crites.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
Overall, it was a pretty uneventful July around the region. Of course, that can be a good thing as we didn’t have to dodge too many large hailstorms or other severe weather. Temperatures were slightly warmer than normal for the month, mainly because of several mild mornings. Precipitation was below normal for most of us as well, but we did have frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms that produced much needed rainfall.
The month started out dry, continuing the trend from the end of June. Temperatures were a little below normal on the first day of the month as well. This was especially noticeable during the morning, as the dry air mass allowed low temperatures to fall to the mid-40s. Higher levels of moisture began to work back into the region as a more typical monsoonal pattern began to affect the southwestern U.S.
This allowed thunderstorms to develop each day from the 3rd through 5th. Brief, heavy rain developed with a couple of the storms, with the heaviest rain on the 3rd and 4th occurring just south of the Palmer Divide before shifting over us on the 5th.
Unfortunately, this intrusion of moisture was short-lived as drier air moved back in over the next week. This allowed temperatures to warm significantly. Highs reached well into the 80s from the 6th through the 11th, topping out at daily record high territory on the 10th when we reached the 90s. This was the first time we hit 90s this summer across the entire region, including the highest elevations of the Palmer Divide.
This heat wave was broken by a return of the monsoonal pattern starting on the 12th. The moisture and strong July sunshine resulted in daily rounds of thunderstorms. Each day followed the normal pattern of clouds, and initial thunderstorms developed by late morning over the mountains. These storms were then moved in a generally westerly direction by the prevailing winds in the atmosphere. Then, as the storms were able to interact with a more favorable environment, more moisture and instability, the storms grew and continued to develop over us and eventually moved to the east of the plains.
This pattern continued through most of the remainder of the month but was interrupted by a couple of more "active" weather days. On the 15th, moisture and instability levels remained high through the day in contrast to the normal pattern of low-level moisture being pushed to the east once storms develop. This allowed a severe thunderstorm to develop over the Front Range mountains of Jefferson and Douglas counties.
As the storm moved east/southeast, it tapped into the moisture and instability that had been pooling over us that morning and early afternoon. The storm strengthened and progressed across the Palmer Divide and moved to the east/southeast. As it crossed the region, areas of hail and brief, heavy rain developed, along with strong winds. Fortunately, the storm was a fairly quick mover, so the severe conditions didn’t last long at any one location.
The last week of the month continued the pattern with afternoon and early evening thunderstorms after a quiet start to each day. Temperatures remained right about normal as well with mid-70s to low 80s each afternoon.
A look ahead
August is the last true "summer" month for the region. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant mornings that turn into afternoon and early evening thunderstorms. Highs during the month range from the mid-80s at the beginning of the month to mid-70s at the end. Temperatures at night get more comfortable as well, often dipping into the 40s.
July 2020 Weather Statistics
Average High 82.5° (+0.0°)
100-year return frequency value max 87.6° min 75.3°
Average Low 52.6° (+1.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 56.2° min 46.9°
Highest Temperature 91°F on the 10th
Lowest Temperature 44°F on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 2.05" (-1.22" 40% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.03" min 0.98"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0"
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 2.05" (-1.22" 40% below normal)
Heating Degree Days 17 (-15)
Cooling Degree Days 99 (+19)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
Monument Academy set to open new East campus
Monument Academy is thrilled to announce that the new East campus, serving sixth through ninth grades, will open for the 2020-21 school year.
Monument Academy proudly educates many District 38 students and is excited to expand our reach this year when we welcome our first freshman class. This year, with the addition of the new campus, MA can offer additional seats across all grade levels and provide adequate space for students to learn as they return to school.
The MA team has been taking a creative approach to planning for the challenges that will surely come with the new school year. As a school that prides itself on choice, MA plans to offer our families several learning options, including a full-time in-person education, distance learning led by Monument Academy teachers, and parent-directed at-home learning, with curriculum and support provided by our faculty. As always, class sizes will remain small at MA.
I want to thank D38 Superintendent Dr. K.C. Somers, Board Liaison Tiffiney Upchurch, and the rest of the D38 Board of Directors for the support they have shown during our build. We would also like to thank JHL Constructors for their fantastic perseverance in the face of a challenging winter and a global pandemic. What they have done by completing the building on time and budget is nothing short of impressive.
We know this year will look different than any other school year in our nation’s history. Our administration, faculty, and staff stand ready to make sure the children in our care have the best school experience and education possible. We are proud to be part of this community, and we will get through this together!
Melanie Strop, president
Monument Academy Board of Directors
Little Free Library
I put up a Little Free Library in front of my house at 205 Sedona Dr. It’s a program of book sharing. Take a book, leave a book. I painted it and installed it during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place since the public libraries were closed. I hope it brings joy to the community.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
Reading the West Book Awards honor the best fiction, nonfiction, and illustrated books for adults and children set in one of 12 Western and Midwestern states, created by an author or artist living or working in the region. This is the 30th Annual Reading the West Book Awards.
Sabrina & Corina
By Kali Fajardo-Anstine (One World), $17
Fiction winner. Against the backdrop of Denver, Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West take center stage in this debut story collection on friendship, mothers and daughters, and an exploration of the experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home.
Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power
By Pekka Hamalainen (Yale University Press), $35
Narrative Nonfiction winner. The first comprehensive history of the Lakota Indians and their profound role in shaping America’s history, tracing their rich and often surprising history from the early 16th to the early 21st century.
National Geographic Atlas of the National Parks
By Jon Waterman (National Geographic Society), $65
Visual Nonfiction winner. The first book of its kind, this stunning atlas showcases America’s spectacular park system from coast to coast, richly illustrated with an inspiring and informative collection of maps, graphics, and photographs.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
By Ben Philippe (Balzer & Bray/Harperteen), $10.99
Young Adult Fiction winner. Norris Kaplan, a Black French Canadian, moves to Austin, Texas and finds himself cataloging everyone he meets. Yet against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris. He eventually realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life along with the people who have found their way into his heart.
Dear Sweet Pea
By Julie Murphy (Balzer & Bray/Harperteen), $16.99
Young Reader Middle-Grade winner. Patricia "Sweet Pea" DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce and living in nearly identical houses on the same street. Her neighbor Flora, famed advice columnist, leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward the letters for the column. Sweet Pea recognizes the handwriting on one of the envelopes. What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea, her family, and many of the readers of Flora’s column.
The Little Snowplow Wishes for Snow
By Lora Koehler, illustrated by Jake Parker (Candlewick Press), $16.99
Best Picture Book winner. The little snowplow loves his job on the Mighty Mountain Road Crew, but the work he loves best is plowing snow. Will the little snowplow’s birthday dreams come true?
The Prairie Homestead Cookbook
By Jill Winger (Flatiron Books), $35
Eating the West winner. Winger’s debut cookbook features over 100 recipes made with fresh ingredients to bring the flavors and spirit of homestead cooking to any kitchen table. Beyond the recipes, Jill shares the tools and tips she has learned from life on the homestead. The runner-up in this category is Centennial Celebrations Cookbook by the Junior League of Denver.
Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country
By Pam Houston (W.W. Norton & Co.), $15.95
Reading the West Advocacy Award and also the winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. In essays from living on her 120-acre homestead outside Creede, Colo., Pam Houston delivers meditations on what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it.
By Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster), $19.99
Spirit of the West Literary Achievement Award winner. Of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove, and this award, McMurtry says, "I am deeply grateful for this award from the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association. My writings represent a long involvement with the landscape, politics, and culture of the West. I decided to write my novel Lonesome Dove in an attempt on my part to understand my father, William Jefferson McMurtry—a villager, a cattleman, and a thinker, who was captivated his entire life with the West, in particular the Plains West. He was the consummate working cowboy and was intrigued with the American steppe. I garnered my keen interest in the philosophy of the Western plains from him."
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
On July 1, the Monument Library reopened with limited indoor services, including the use of the public computers, picking up holds, and browsing the collection.
Cloth face masks are required, and staff is limited. Single-use masks are available for patrons.
Patrons may use the self-checkout stations, printer, and copier without staff assistance.
Staff is cleaning equipment between users for the safety of all.
The library looks very different, with much less furniture and new signage to indicate safe distancing practices.
The meeting rooms remain unavailable and programs are suspended for now. Online book clubs and other activities may be accessed via the district website, ppld.org.
Incoming materials are quarantined for 96 hours before processing.
Curbside pickup service for holds continues indefinitely. For best results, please call ahead (488-2370) so that your materials are ready when you arrive.
The Palmer Lake Library can only offer curbside services right now since the building is not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Pikes Peak Library District leases the property from the Town of Palmer Lake and uses the space to serve the local community.
The library team is working with town officials to determine the best way to move forward so local residents can access an adequate public library.
Palmer Lake Library patrons wishing to take advantage of other indoor services can visit the Monument Library, four miles east on Highway 105.
We look forward to seeing you again as our current situation unfolds.
Caption: Tape and signs on the floor around equipment and service stations encourage social distancing. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Sharon Williams
August is a great time to be experiencing Colorado. This month’s history gives us a view of our growth from a territory to statehood, our pioneering spirit, and the majesty of mountainous terrain and sprawling high desert plains.
We begin with Aug. 1, 1876 when Colorado became the 38th state to join the Union under President Ulysses Grant. On this first day of August, declared as "Colorado Day," we celebrate our "birthday" with various events including climbers carrying a state flag to fourteener summits, historical presentations, and displays.
Later in the month, many area residents participate in the annual Pikes Peak Ascent (half marathon) and Marathon running event in our neighboring town of Manitou Springs. It was August 1956 when the starting gun of the first ascent and marathon launched runners to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak, and back down for a total of 26.2 grueling mountain miles. The ascent climbs 13.3 miles to the finish at the summit. In the 1980s, the ascent became its own race, and to this day the half-marathon is run the same weekend, on Saturday before the Sunday round-trip marathon.
The Pikes Peak Marathon is the third-oldest in the country and the first to welcome female participants. Arlene Pieper became the first official female finisher of a U.S. marathon when she crossed the marathon finish line in 1959.
On August 5, 1858, another woman, Julia "Anna" Archibald Holmes became the first recorded woman to summit Pikes Peak. It took over another decade for another woman to summit a fourteener, but Anna blazed the trail that made it more acceptable for women to enjoy the outdoors just like men.
Anna, her husband James Holmes, and two other gold prospectors took the arduous, two-day trek up to the summit. She wore her practical "reform dress" in her standard, shorter skirt and bloomer costume, complete with moccasins. That was considered shocking and indecent at the time, and she became known as the "Bloomer Girl on Pikes Peak."
Julia Archibald Holmes was a Canadian-American suffragist, abolitionist, mountaineer, and journalist. As we continue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage this year, we acknowledge her role as an activist and advocate for equality. Holmes was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2014.
Caption: In August 1959, Arlene Pieper was the first female to run the Pikes Peak Marathon—or any official U.S. marathon. Photo shows Pieper in a head scarf and rolled-up shorts at the starting line. Photo courtesy Pikes Peak Marathon Inc.; caption by Sharon Williams.
Caption: After camping in the Manitou Springs area for several days, Julia "Anna" Archibald Holmes embarked on a two-day challenging hike with husband James Holmes and two miners to the summit of Pikes Peak. Photo circa 1870, from an album of Doug Robinson’s photos by private user; caption by Sharon Williams.
Caption: A sketched likeness of the short dress with bloomers worn by Julia "Anna" Archibald Holmes, recorded as the first woman to summit Pikes Peak, on Aug. 5, 1858. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame; caption by Sharon Williams.
The Palmer Lake Historical Society has suspended its regular monthly historical program series due to COVID-19. Until these monthly programs resume, Sharon Williams provides this column with relevant historical topics to OCN readers. Normally, the Historical Society meets on the third Thursday of the month, 7 p.m., Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent; the Lucretia Vaile Museum, also closed due to COVID-19, is located at 66 Lower Glenway St., Palmer Lake. The museum houses items of local historical significance. Special displays rotate every four to six months. Info: 719-559-0837; PLHS@PalmerDivideHistory.org; www.palmerdivide-history.org.
Sharon Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Our forest clime is perfect for its hardy pine trees. For home gardening, understanding and respecting our soil microclimates require careful tending for success. Our June 9 snow day and then July heat impacted our soil microbes and growing patterns this summer. We’ve had to adapt; alpaca beans did come to our rescue with nutrients and mulching power.
Many who move to our area can’t grow things they like, so knowing how to optimize crop specific microbes and nutrients is vital. The clean, barely digested grasses of alpaca beans is an easy soil addition, works well, and is often free. Some people successfully work veggie scraps into compost for their gardens, but that takes time and frankly I’ve failed at that many times.
We’ve seen fewer pollinators this year. Putting out water sources with shallow stone landings for birds and pollinators helps them help us. And, I finally succumbed and got a hose timer to help water the crops. Missing just one morning or evening can devastate food gardens due to the intense midday heat, unless we have rain for relief.
The Monument Community Garden plants—and mine at home—are shorter this year, our giant 12-foot sunflowers and my 6-foot hollyhocks are half the height as last year. For heat-loving plants, tomatoes should do well now, my corn is as high as a (baby) elephant’s eye, and our spearmint-protected walking stick kale is 18 inches now, but they grow to 12 feet tall.
We tried some novel ideas for salads this summer, putting the immature radish seed pods in salads for their hint of radish flavor. As soon as our nasturtiums bloom, they’ll be tasty additions. I’ve long enjoyed the garlic and onion greens snipped off for salads and various dishes—great with omelets—but this year I’m looking to try sunflower buds steamed like artichokes. Did you know the artichokes we eat are thistle flower buds?
Looking ahead, August is fall crop-planting month. Things to plant now—protected from hot sun—are cool weather crops that will be ready by October—just two months away! That would be greens: lettuces, kale, chard, spinach, and collards, all of which grow easily here in pots or beds.
As our August rains resume, we should have great forest foraging again, especially mushrooms. Stay tuned to the Facebook pages for Monument Community Garden and Friends of Fox Run Park for updates on mushroom pop-up hikes.
New! Harvest Farmers Market on Fridays, Aug. 21 to Sept. 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
16575 Roller Coaster Rd. Local and Colorado grown fruits, vegetables, honey, crafts soap, alpaca wool crafts, meet baby alpacas, more. (Colorado COVID-19 compliance requires social distancing and masks).
Caption: Peter Ziek of Wild Hair Alpacas. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an avid ethnoecologist and lazy organic gardener, letting Mother Nature guide human efforts for optimal gardening. Send her your local gardening tips: email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
If you’re like me, sometimes art history jumbles together and it’s hard to distinguish subtle differences, but we can recognize excellence when we see it. Too many explanations cloud our art understanding, but a consistent factor of art experience is human perception, light, and shadow.
NASA has long supported space art to illustrate wonders of the galaxy for the general public. On television, we see Renaissance and Dutch baroque visual devices echoed in sci-fi space art—the Star Trek Enterprise is shown visually stable via the horizontal placement in dark space where there is no up or down (unless you are inside the ship itself). Visual instability and drama occur with perceived movement between objects such as the spaceship moving past a moon or planet for reference.
Visual stability portrayed with light and shadow lets us know where we are in space here on Earth, referencing what we are looking at, so we perceive needs such as fight or flight. These immediate perceptions go on in our minds even if it’s not the real thing, and that power of composition establishes vital interest for us whether it’s a painting, television, movie, or other visual communication.
At the recent Tri-Lakes Chamber mixer, I was talking with our county commissioner, Stan VanderWerf, about art in the area. He serves on the Colorado Springs Public Art Commission. I asked him about his zest for art and he said his ancestor, accomplished Dutch baroque artist Adrian Van Der Werf (1659-1722), inspired his interest.
Adrian Van Der Werf’s perfectionism to his craft served him as he became one of the most sought-after and well-paid artists of his day. Considered one of the greatest Dutch baroque painters throughout the 18th century, his genre work centered on Dutch daily life and affairs. While the Renaissance artists had used compositions of horizontals and pyramid stability with soft lighting for religious and mythical subjects, the up-and-coming Dutch baroque artists embraced the drama and excitement inferred by using a single light source, evoking the powerful, sensational visual experiences surrounding their world of traveling merchants who supported paintings of their developing middle-class culture.
August local art events
• The Art Hop Returns, Aug. 20, 5-8 p.m. Historic Downtown Monument.
• Palmer Lake Art Group scholarship winner Kennedy Shuh at Bella Art and Frame through mid-August, 183 Washington St., Monument.
• Hummingbird Festival, Aug. 21, 10-4 p.m., Southwinds Art Gallery; hummingbird art, art of local artists, 16575 Roller Coaster Rd. Celebrating the rufous hummingbirds’ return flight through our area. Family-friendly hummingbird talks and art, food, face painting, music, giant bubbles, alpaca wool crafts, baby alpacas meet-and-greet. (Colorado COVID-19 compliance requires social distancing and masks.)
Caption: County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf at home with his replica of Portrait of a Man in a Quilted Gown. Housed in the National Gallery, London, the original painting is by his ancestor, Adrian Van Der Werf, whose works are considered the epitome of Dutch baroque painting. Photo courtesy Stan VanderWerf.
Janet Sellers is a local artist, writer, and public speaker, with paintings and public art sculptures at Colorado museums, parks, and venues. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farm to Farmers Market
Caption: One of our very local, organic certified, home-grown farms/vendors of the Monument Hill Farmers Market that work hard year-round is OneLuv Organics. Not only do they give to the area food banks through their nonprofit Patches of Hope, they work to create organic farm-grown food in the short growing season of Colorado. Avery Bortell, pictured, works at the farm and farmers market helping her family sell the best and freshest vegetables available. Her parents, Liza and Dean, coming from military and engineering backgrounds, have found their niche in the continuing resurgence of organic farming. The outdoor Monument Hill Farmers Market is open in downtown Monument every Saturday through Oct. 11, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photo by Marlene Brown.
AARP remembers vets, July 1
Caption: The 2020 coronavirus outbreak could not stop Chapter 1100 of AARP in Black Forest from remembering the veterans at the Bruce McCandless Veterans Community Living Center in Florence. As in past years the chapter provided useful items for the center’s residents in appreciation for their service to the nation. Chapter 1100 is the only AARP chapter in the Colorado Springs area. The motto of the chapter is "To Serve Not to be Served." Contact Candace, the chapter president, at (314) 330-0411 for information about Chapter 1100, which has been designated the best AARP Chapter in Colorado for Community Service for 11 consecutive years.
Caption: While relaxing in one of the camp chairs provided by Chapter 1100 of AARP, "Jack," the Resident Council president, displays some of the fishing items donated to Community Living Center residents. Photo courtesy of Black Forest AARP.
TLCA makes improvements, July 2
Caption: Though the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) has been closed for events since March due to the pandemic, the staff and volunteers have not been idle. They, along with hired contractors, have made improvements inside and outside the building. Regarding the latter, pictured are Dave Jordan and TLCA volunteer Joe Beavers performing the final touches on painting the east side of the building. Those passing the TLCA will not only notice the new colors but also the new pergola that will provide cover for attendees before entering the center. Michael Maddox, TLCA executive director, said these and other improvements are a "continuing effort to provide a first-class venue for art exhibits and concerts by nationally recognized performers for the benefit of Front Range families." Check the center’s website, www.trilakesarts.org, for upcoming events presently scheduled for September. Photo by David Futey.
Flags along Gleneagle Dr., July 3
Caption: Zack Pankau of Boy Scout Troop 194 and Gleneagle Sertoma Club member Harvey LeCato were among the volunteers who placed American flags along the length of Gleneagle Drive on the morning of July 3 and in celebration of the Fourth of July. The club has placed flags along Gleneagle around the Fourth of July for over 15 years. The 400 flags were provided by Terry Galloway of Real Estate by Terry. Information on the club and its volunteer efforts toward hearing health is at www.gleneaglesertoma.org. Photo by David Futey.
Flyover, July 4
Caption: In honor of the Fourth of July, the Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Wing flew over Monument and other Colorado communities. The F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft were from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Photo by David Futey.
"Virtual" July 4th Fun Run
Caption: A group of friends who met through various running clubs got into the Fun Run and Fourth of July spirit as they gathered at the traditional starting line in Palmer Lake. The traditional Fourth of July Fun Run from Palmer Lake to Monument went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 580 runners registered for the run themed "Any time, any place, any where." Thus runners could select their own course and start time, though a few runners showed up to run the race at its usual time in Palmer Lake on the morning of the Fourth of July. Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) Principal Peggy Griebenow was "grateful runners got into the spirit of the race" and that "race organizers got creative to continue this great tradition." The Fun Run acts as the primary fundraiser for PLES with proceeds going to technology, outdoor activities, and other education activities. Registering runners received a race T-shirt and other amenities. Photo by David Futey.
Oregon firefighters help stand watch
Caption: During the past several weeks, outside firefighting crews have been stationed around Monument to boost the services of local fire departments in this very dry fire season. Pictured on July 6 is a crew from Bly, Ore., in the Fremont Winoma National Forest. From left are Michelle Henry, captain, Brandon McBride, David Sutch, and Rodney Allen. Photo by John Howe.
Bears have people problems
Caption: Every year, bears attracted to human food sources damage property, vehicles, and even homes. Bears don’t know they’re doing anything wrong. They’re just following their super-sensitive noses to the most calories they can find. Bears that find food around homes, campgrounds, and communities often lose their natural wariness of people. Even though black bears are not naturally aggressive and seldom attack or injure people, they are still strong, powerful animals. A bear intent on getting a meal could injure someone who gets in its way. Every year bears that have become too comfortable around people have to be destroyed. You can help save bears by keeping trash cans, recycling cans, and bird feeders inside until the morning of pickup. See https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Education/LivingWithWildlife/LivingWithBears.pdf. Photo posted on Pixabay by ArtTower.
Backyard Farmers Market, July 11
Caption: Local children leave freshly painted flowers on the backyard picket fence at the children’s activity area at the "Backyard" Farmers Market on July 11 at the Black Forest Community Center (BFCC). Up to 82 vendors are available and anywhere from 700 to 1,000 browse the market’s colorful booths. The market is restricted to vendors who live within a 50-mile radius with a focus on fresh farm produce, handmade crafts, live music, and children’s activities. Sustainability classes in farming, gardening and waste recycling will be offered once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, in the backyard of the BFCC from May through October with the exception of Aug. 15. For information visit www.bfbackyardfarmersmarket.com. The market operates in full compliance with the current local and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and masks are required for entrance. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
WMMI machinery demos, July 18
Caption: On July 18, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted its Outdoor Machinery Demonstration Day. This free event (to be repeated Aug. 22)offered operational demonstrations of the Yellow Jacket Stamp Mill, 1920 Osgood Steam Shovel (operated above by Museum Executive Director Grant Dewey) and H.K. Porter trammer along with blacksmith demonstrations and a hayride to get visitors around to the various activities. Visitors could also attend an indoor museum tour at regular museum admission rates. Museum Executive Director Grant Dewey said the day "provided visitors with the opportunity to witness the scale of the operated machines along with the sights and sounds." Information on tours and upcoming museum events is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.
"Big Bertha" installed at Lolley’s
Caption: The grease interceptor nicknamed "Big Bertha" has arrived at what will be Monument’s ice cream shop on Second Street. The massive 1,500-gallon interceptor was lowered by crane into a huge hole in the back of the future Lolley’s Ice Cream shop on July 20. Renovations continue inside and outside the 130-year-old house that used to be an inn where people would wait for a stagecoach. Owners Shelley and Dustin Sapp hope to open Lolley’s in the fall. Photos by Michael Weinfeld.
Local mom makes face masks
Caption: Leonor Lange makes face masks locally for children and adults in compliance with Colorado COVID-19 needs. Offered for "give what you can" donations, she then sends funds to her native Bolivia, a country whose extreme poverty is further crippled by the pandemic. Having purchased supplies on her own, she sews the masks, then sends all monies received over to people and places she has worked with personally: cardiologist Dr. Alexis Toshio of Dr. Alfonso Gumusio Reyes General Hospital and the Hermana Rosario nuns at the orphanage Hogar Sagrado Corazon, both in Montero, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She knows them from her years as a social worker in Bolivia. Lange feels the effects of the pandemic particularly strongly. Beloved members of her family in Bolivia have suffered and died from the disease. Hospitals are so overwhelmed that many people are home quarantined and cannot work or earn income. Lange is doing what she can to help those both near and afar benefit. To offer charitable donations or donate and get masks, contact Lange at her home, "my sewing place" aka her kids’ playroom, 512-650-0477. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Many thanks, Danny, July 25
Caption: Danny Guzman, high school senior, kneels beside his rock design at what’s known as Ms. T’s garden as Tia Mayer, left, and John Howe look on. Guzman volunteered to help weed and clean for several weeks at the Chamber of Commerce Community Meeting House on Highway 105. He completed his work on July 25. Photo by Michael Weinfeld. Caption by John Howe.
Above: On July 24, Rob Long was sitting on his deck with an iPhone 11
mounted on a small tripod near the feeder when these hummingbirds decided to
cooperate. "My wife is back in Indiana and wanted a picture of the orange
hummingbirds at our feeder, so I was just doing my duty," he said. His educated
guess is that the orange one is a rufous hummingbird just migrating through.
They are also very protective of their food sources. The other hummingbird might
be a broadtail. Photo by Rob Long.
By Judy Barnes, Events Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the information number for that event.
Monument Library resumes limited indoor library services
At the library, you are now able to browse the physical collection, use self-checkout machines and service desks, make one 55-minute computer reservation per day (phone 719-389-8968, with your library card), use copier machines without staff assistance, and charge your devices. Cloth face coverings/masks are required, capacity limits will be enforced, and other items and areas will remain unavailable or closed to the public (including furniture, water fountains, and children’s play area). Please keep your visits as brief as possible. Curbside pickup of holds is available; phone 719-488-2370. For more information, phone 719-531-6333, x7005 or visit www.ppld.org/monument-library.
Tri-Lakes Senior Center reopens
The senior center now has a temperature check station at the entrance and will follow all state guidelines to allow seniors to participate safely in various activities. The senior center is located in the portable building between Lewis-Palmer High School and the Don Breese Stadium. For more information, contact 719-464-6873 or www.trilakesseniors.org.
Tri-Lakes Y fall youth sports
Registration is now open for flag football, volleyball, and soccer. Practices begin in August. Basketball will start in October. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. See ad on page 6.
PLAG Art Show postponed, Art Show for Scholarship Winner
PLAG’s annual fine art exhibit, Color Splash, has been postponed until spring 2021. Kennedy Shuh, PLAG’S high school scholarship winner, will have an art show through August at Bella Art and Frame, 183 Washington St., Monument (719-487-7691). For details about PLAG, contact email@example.com, www.palmerlakeartgroup.com. See ad on page 12.
Sheriff seeks information in 2017 homicide of Tim Watkins
The morning of Sept. 14, 2017, Tim Watkins rode his mountain bike up Mt. Herman west of Palmer Lake as he’d had done many times before. But he never returned, and three days later, a crew of volunteer searchers found his body, shot and buried on a hillside near one of his favorite trails. Two years later, no suspects have been named and no arrests have been made. Authorities in Colorado continue to ask for the public’s help in the murder of Watkins. Friends and family have established a GoFundMe goal of $15,000 to Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for Watkins’ death. Anyone with information can submit an anonymous tip by calling the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 719-520-6666, or by calling Pikes Peak Crime Stoppers at 719-634-7867.
Tri-Lakes Cares is there for you
Do you need help as a result of COVID-19? Connect with Tri-Lakes Cares for assistance with groceries, rent or mortgage, utilities, car repair, and medical assistance at www.tri-lakescares.org/coronavirus. For more information, call 719-481-4864. See ad on page 13.
Stage I Fire Restrictions
Continued dry conditions and the National Weather Service forecast for continued dry and warmer-than-normal conditions have resulted in very high to extreme fire danger ratings. Stage I Fire Restrictions are now in effect for all the unincorporated areas of El Paso County. The following are prohibited:
• Open burning, excepting fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds; charcoal grills and wood burning stoves at private residences in areas cleared of all flammable materials.
• The sale or use of fireworks.
• Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
Violations of Stage I Restrictions may result in a fine of up to $600. For more information, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com.
Slash-Mulch season ends Sept.
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) through Sept. 13. Mulch will be available through Sept. 19 or until mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone the County Environmental Division, 520-7878; Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024.
Openings for Monument’s PC and Board of Adjustments
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit www.townofmonument.org.
WMMI indoor tours resume
Museum tours now accommodate social distancing and COVID-19 safety standards. Tours are available Mon., Wed., Fri., and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with a special hour for our vulnerable population, 9-10 a.m. Please call in advance. The gift shop is open. Cost: $11 adults, $10 military/AAA, $9 seniors and students, $6 children 3-12, free to children under 3 and museum members. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 Exit 156 A). For more information, phone 719-488-0880, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.wmmi.org.
Clerk & Recorder services
In-person services are available by appointment only for marriage licenses as well as motor vehicle and driver’s license renewals and out-of-state transfers at the main, southeast, and north offices. Schedule an appointment online at www.epcdrives.com. Most driver and vehicle services can be completed online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov. Residents can renew their motor vehicle registration online at www.mydmv.colorado.gov, by phone at 520-6240, by mail, or by self-service kiosks at King Soopers or at the North Motor Vehicle Office at 8830 N. Union Blvd. (24/7 kiosk). For more information, phone 520-6200 or visit www.clerkandrecorder.elpasoco.com. See ad on page 2.
Sisters’ Thrift & Boutique reopens
The Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery have a shop full of gently used treasures, including clothing and accessories, household items, and small furniture at 8674 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs. Store hours are Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The phone number is 719-282-0316. For a $5 off coupon, see ad on page 10.
MVEA Youth Leadership Trip Contest
High school sophomores and juniors can win a summer trip. Apply at www.mvea.coop/essay-contest. Leadership trip availability may change due to COVID-19. For more information, contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, email@example.com. See ad on page 32.
36th Annual National Night Out, Oct. 6
National Night Out, a national community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships. has traditionally been scheduled for the first Tuesday in August. This year it is delayed until Oct. 6 due to COVID-19. Turn on your porch light and go outside to join your neighbors to make a show of solidarity and strength. Plan a block party, barbecue, neighborhood walk, or other activity. Register for free and receive information and suggestions at www.natw.org.
Palmer Lake prohibits parking to visitors
The Town of Palmer Lake has issued an emergency ordinance prohibiting parking on all town streets, with the exception of Palmer Lake residents, and closing the parking area at the reservoir trailhead on Old Carriage Road during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 community resources available
The county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0, has lists to help with basic needs, behavioral health resources, businesses, childcare resources for children and teens, health and wellness resources, and volunteer opportunities (local and immediate needs).
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
The unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation presents scheduling challenges to area governance entities and other organizations. Because OCN is a monthly publication, readers should assume that information published in this issue is subject to change and event information should be confirmed a day or two before the event by calling the information number or checking the organization’s website.
Many entries show dates even though the event has been canceled or suspended. The date indicates when the event was planned to be held or when it would normally have been held.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
For information on library events, see the library events column on page 24 and visit www.ppld.org.
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 04, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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